Payton Willis scored a career-high 21 points on 5-for-7 shooting from 3-point range to lead Minnesota’s romp past rival Wisconsin 70-52 on Wednesday night.
Daniel Oturu had 17 points and 14 rebounds, Marcus Carr scored 12 points, and Gabe Kalscheur added 11 points for the Gophers (12-10, 6-6 Big Ten), who led the entire game and posted their largest margin of victory over the Badgers in 26 years.
Nate Reuvers scored 14 points and Micah Potter had 11 points and 15 rebounds off the bench, but the Badgers (13-10, 6-6) had their worst shooting performance of the season at 28.4% — 19 for 67 — despite the return of guard Brad Davison from a one-game suspension.
The Gophers beat Wisconsin at home for the first time in six years. This was their biggest blowout of the Badgers since a 109-78 decision on Feb. 12, 1994, one of the games later vacated by the NCAA for the academic fraud scandal at Minnesota.
The Gophers cooled off a bit after halftime, but the Badgers went into an even bigger funk. Kalscheur and Oturu hit 3-pointers on Minnesota’s first two possessions of the second half, and Wisconsin never came closer than the original 13-point deficit while too often settling for long-range shots. Reuvers received a delay-of-game warning from the officials for punching the ball after picking up his third foul with 16:27 remaining as the deficit reached the 20-point mark.
The Gophers built a 45-32 advantage at the break, their highest halftime score in Big Ten play this season on the strength of a sharpshooting performance that has been missing for them this winter more often than not.
Willis, who missed the loss at Illinois last week with a shoulder injury, was the primary source of the spark with swishes on his first three 3-point attempts. The transfer from Vanderbilt, who had to sit out last season, had 13 points in the first half to already hit his scoring high in a Big Ten game.
Reuvers did his part with the ball, but most of his production had to come from the outside. Oturu, who was named this week as one of the 20 late-season finalists for the Wooden Award for the national player of the year, was not giving any ground in the lane.
Carr found Oturu for a lob, a layup and a foul on Reuvers with 2:12 left before the break for a 40-25 edge. Kalscheur, who was shooting just 21.6% from long range in conference play entering the game, made two 3-pointers in the final three minutes of the half to get the crowd going.