On January 17 against Michigan State, down 76-72 with 32.3 seconds remaining, Wisconsin looked gassed.

Ready to inbound the ball after a missed three-pointer by Nigel Hayes that ricocheted off Michigan State, Greg Gard took one of his team’s remaining two timeouts after a substitution. The Badgers were playing with the Spartans the entire game, but they were struggling to create offense under a minute remaining, trailing by four points.

Out of the timeout, Bronson Koenig, who already had 24 points in the game, took a deep three-pointer only seconds into the possession. With probable All-American Denzel Valentine in his face, Koenig sunk the shot, narrowing the Spartans’ lead to only 76-75 with 28.8 seconds left.

Timeout, Wisconsin.

Out of that timeout, the team’s last, Gard made a decisive defensive substitution. He put in freshman guard Khalil Iverson, who had only played four minutes in the entire game.

Michigan State inbounded the ball to Eron Harris, who mistakenly dribbled near the sidelines, where Iverson was waiting. Ethan Happ slid over to double team and trap Harris. The pressure got to Harris; he stepped out of bounds right in front of the Wisconsin bench. A season-defining play by two freshmen.

“That’s why you don’t foul right away,” longtime CBS commentator and former basketball standout Clark Kellogg exclaimed in the live broadcast.

“We were either going to try to get a steal, get a trap if it was in the corner, or we had to foul,” Gard said about the sequence after the game. “I had no timeouts left. All of those situations were discussed in that last 30-second timeout.”

Wisconsin now had the ball with 22.7 seconds left. Koenig had the ball, ran around a few screens, and found Happ open near the hoop. After hesitating and double-clutching, Happ made a tough reverse lay-up with 10.2 seconds left.

77-76, Wisconsin.

Michigan State elected not to take a timeout, and Valentine had a decent look off a screen. Hayes got in his face, just enough to force a miss. Spartans forward/center Matt Costello put up a prayer that may or may not have counted. It didn’t go in, so it didn’t matter.

The game was over. The Badgers bench went crazy. The team had little to celebrate since Gard took over, as it was only their second win in Big Ten play in six games.

Fast forward to over a month later, and the Badgers have not lost, as that win sparked a seven-game winning streak. Wisconsin had little business winning that game, but it quite frankly saved the team’s season. The Badgers were in danger of going 9-10 and losing the locker room completely. Credit Iverson for stepping up, Koenig and Happ’s heroics, and excellent coaching by Gard to pull that win out.

Wisconsin goes for eight in a row tonight at 8:00 PM CT on ESPN.

Photo courtesy of Khalil Iverson’s brother, Kevin, on Twitter (@Mr_Iverson).