MADISON, Wis. - The No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers got back to their winning ways on senior day on Wednesday night, hammering Purdue 76-70 in their regular season finale at the Kohl Center. The Badgers (25-5, 12-5 Big Ten) have now won eight games in a row, setting themselves up for a high seed in both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments after they lost five six games in the middle of the conference season.
In beating the Boilermakers the Badgers also avenged last season's 69-56 loss to Purdue on senior night, but senior guard Ben Brust said he didn't feel very different as he ran out of the Kohl Center tunnel with his teammates for the last time.
"It was nice to have everyone smiling in the locker room and to have everyone smiling after the game," Brust said in his post-game press conference. "It makes it much better for everyone- the seniors included. Much better to get a win in your last time on the home floor. That's an amazing experience. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do the rest of the way."
Brust finished the game with nine points on 3-of-11 shooting from the floor, but Frank Kaminsky was Wisconsin's offensive star of the night. The 6-foot-11 center scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-5 on 3-pointers. The Boilermakers didn't have an answer for him for most of the game, especially when he was matched up against A.J. Hammons.
"Frank has really done a good job of just taking what the defense gives him," Purdue head coach Matt Painter said after the game. "He does a good job of picking his spots."
Traevon Jackson also chipped in 14 points as well, and Josh Gasser made 9-of-10 free throws to finish with 13 points. Wisconsin's starting five as a whole finished the game shooting 18-for-41 from the floor (43.9 percent), which was bogged down by a rough night from Sam Dekker, who finished the game with just five points on 1-of-7 shooting.
In the early stages of the game it looked like the Badgers were about to go in to cruise control, but the Boilermakers made UW work for the win when they cut what had been an 18-point Wisconsin lead down to just seven points with 5:18 left in the game, but the Badgers rallied down the stretch and made 14-of-15 free throws in the game's closing minutes to seal up the win.
Michigan has already clinched the outright Big Ten Championship, but the Badgers have set themselves up for success in the postseason over their last eight games. They will clinch the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament if No. 22 Michigan State loses one of their final two games, and have already clinched a bye on the first day of the conference tournament.
In addition they also seem like a safe bet to earn at least a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, with a No. 2 or No. 1 need not out of the question. Either way it also seems likely that the Badgers will end up playing in Milwaukee during the first four days of the tournament- something that seemed to have slipped from their grasp when they were caught in their mid-season swoon.
John Veldhuis covers Wisconsin football, basketball and recruiting for BadgerBlitz.com on the Rivals.com network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnVeldhuis.