KTNYFB Madison, WI, USA. 27th Dec, 2017. A basketball lies on the court before the NCAA Basketball game between the Chicago State Cougars and the Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center in Madison, WI. Wisconsin defeated Chicago State 82-70. John Fisher/CSM/Alamy Live News

Wisconsin Basketball suffers heartbreaking OT loss to No. 3 Kansas

Wisconsin Basketball suffers heartbreaking OT loss to No. 3 Kansas

Wisconsin basketball knuckled up with the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks and left it all on the floor only to lose on a heartbreaking putback at the buzzer in OT, losing 69-68.

Head coach Greg Gard and the Wisconsin Badgers (4-1) might not be heading to the Battle 4 Atlantis championship, but there are a ton of positives UW can build on moving forward.

With 15:48 remaining in the second half, UW found themselves down 15, and even I’ll admit, I thought they were dead in the water.

Try telling that to Wisconsin, who fought back tooth and nail behind a 23-point, 10-rebound double-double from senior forward Tyler Wahl and a career-high 17 points from freshman wonder boy Connor Essegian.

“For this early in the season, a great test for us,” said Gard. “We’re not into moral victories, but this group showed me a lot today. There are a lot of things that we can get better at.”

Wofford transfer Max Klesmit played arguably his best game in a Wisconsin uniform, chipping in 13 points of his own on 4-of-6 shooting and playing stingy D all afternoon.

With Wahl in foul trouble, junior forward Carter Gilmore provided some quality minutes, acting as a connector who understood his role.

Wisconsin’s defense showed out yet again, holding KU to 38.7% shooting from the field, but the real difference came on the glass, where the Jayhawks finished with a 53-35 advantage (14 offensive).

No matter which way you slice it, this one hurts. Wisconsin was one second away from one of the biggest non-conference wins in school history. But coach Gard learned a lot about the grit and resolve of his team.

The offense has some areas it needs to clean up, sure, but they’re taking care of the basketball, and now, they’ve proved they can play with anyone.

Spoiler alert: UW will finish better than ninth in the Big Ten this season.

What comes next

Wisconsin will play the loser of No. 22 Tennessee and USC in Friday’s third-place game.

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