MADISON — Bronson Koenig has wowed everyone before when he gets hot shooting a basketball. Most notably, of course, was when he hit two threes at the end of the second round against Xavier last March in the NCAA Tournament. One to tie the game up, and one, oh so memorably, to win it.
“I’ve taken over games before,” Koenig said after last night’s 68-64 win against Michigan. “I knew I was capable of it, I just needed to stay confident and stay on the attack.”
Koenig’s rally brought Wisconsin fans to their feet and shattered Michigan fans hearts all at the same time.
Before Koenig’s explosion, however, the Badgers seemed like they were ready to give up a game that was in their control for most of the first half. Michigan’s Duncan Robinson hit a three-pointer to put the Wolverines ahead 49-43 with just 6:29 left in the game. It was a considerable deficit, and it must have finally woke the Badgers up in the second half, because it didn’t seem like they really left the locker room. The Wolverines had outscored the Badgers 28-19 in the second half and seemed ready to upset Wisconsin. After all, the Big Ten has been very up and down this season. A Wisconsin loss to 2-3 Michigan, in the Kohl Center, with the way the Badgers have dominated Michigan during John Beilein’s tenure (winning 16 of the last 18 meetings), might just top off the craziness. Even Koenig himself only had a quiet four points at this point in the game.
Luckily for Wisconsin, Koenig was there to ensure that that ending wouldn’t take place on Tuesday night. After a Zak Showalter lay-in made the score 49-45, it was Koenig’s time.
He first started out his masterpiece with a fastbreak lay-up to bring the Badgers within two points. The lay-in was Koenig’s first field goal since his first three which he knocked down less than two minutes after tip-off.
Koenig was asked postgame if he thought attacking the basket helped him get comfortable.
“Yeah, I would say so,” Koenig said. “Just trying to get out in transition. Trying to run more. When the defense isn’t set you don’t have five defenders staring at you packing the lane.”
A little over 30 seconds later, Koenig had a beautiful take and finish in the paint to tie the game. Koenig came from the right baseline and finished on the other side of the hoop, culminating in his best take to the rim in awhile.
With the work done in the paint to bring the game back to even, it was time for Koenig’s aerial assault. Back-to-back threes would give the Badgers a two-possession lead, all constructed by Koenig.
Like many of Koenig’s threes, they were as pretty as they were deep, and they’re even prettier when they give the Badgers a lead.
Koenig’s first three of the two came off of an “elevator screen”, where two players come together to squeeze the defender of the player running through the screen. The play worked to perfection and got Koenig loose.
“They ran an elevator play to get him open, in the middle.” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “You just can’t give him that type of room. It was a great play and he hit a 25 footer running away from the basket out of an elevator, and you’ve gotta give him that one.”
The second three can just be chalked up to Bronson being Bronson, hitting threes like Bronson does in Bronson’s corner.
Beilein didn’t have as much to say about that three: “The other one we allowed him to hit and we feel bad about it but it’s not a game of perfect.”
Koenig finished the game with 16 points on 3/5 shooting from beyond the arch. His heroics help spoil the Wolverines upset bid and moved the Badgers to 4-1 in conference play.