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Ten takeaways from Wisconsin’s heartbreaking loss to Kansas

Wisconsin gave No. 3 Kansas everything they could handle and then some, but in the end the fight fell short by 0.2 seconds as the Jayhawks walked away with a 69-68 victory.

Wisconsin fell to 4-1, but even with a loss, it felt like one of the most impressive Badger basketball performances in recent memory. Trailing 15 in the second half, the Badgers could have packed their bags, but instead they made a series of runs, the last culminating in a three-point lead with less than 20 seconds remaining on rule.

Kansas made just enough key plays to escape when a Bobby Pettiford Jr. broke Wisconsin’s hearts with an acrobatic layup 0.2 seconds from time.

There were a number of impressive takeaways for Wisconsin in an impressive loss. Here’s what Badger fans can take away from an incredible fight in the Bahamas:

This team does not finish 9th in the Big Ten

11/23/2022; PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers forward Carter Gilmore (14) and Wisconsin Badgers forward Tyler Wahl (5) and Wisconsin Badgers forward Steven Crowl (22) celebrate after the game against the Dayton Flyers at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Where was Wisconsin Picked in the Big Ten Preseason Poll? Relegated to ninth place. That team defense, Tyler Wahl’s play, freshman sniper Connor Essegian’s emergence? Wisconsin does not finish ninth in the Big Ten.

Max Klesmit helped shut down five-star newcomer Gradey Dick

11/23/2022; PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers guard Max Klesmit (11) reacts during the second half against the Dayton Flyers at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

One of Wisconsin’s more underrated plays, which edged Kansas 43-30 in the second half, was Wofford’s transfer of Max Klesmit’s defensive work off the ball. He navigated screens in a Jrue Holiday sort of way (okay, I’ll calm down) while holding the five-star Grady Dick to just 0-2 off the field and zero points in the second half.

Wisconsin has been phenomenal outside of the timeouts

11/24/2022; PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers players react after the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The one area where Wisconsin has been consistently successful offensively? From timeouts. The Badgers eventually created a series of color accents for Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl from their after-timeout sets. If you could be nitpicky about that second half, it could be not using a timeout on the last game of regulation.

Connor Essegian… yes

11/23/2022; PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers guard Connor Essegian (3) shoots in the second half against the Dayton Flyers at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

He’s a furious cutter, an intelligent spaceman, a long-range sniper, and fights on the defensive as best he can. Essegian was a revelation for a Wisconsin team looking for offensive answers. The freshman finished with 17 points off the bench on 6-12 shooting while knocking down a trio of three.

When the Badgers had color accents, good things happened

11/24/2022; PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers forward Steven Crowl (22) and Kansas Jayhawks forward Zach Clemence (21) go for the ball during the first half at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Part of it was a matchup thing, and part of it was Wahl’s brilliance, but when the ball found the color for post touches within the swing offense, Wisconsin found success. Kansas was undersized, and Wisconsin was able to play through election in the post all morning.

Second chances defined loss

11/24/2022; PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS; Kansas Jayhawks forward Jalen Wilson (10) reacts after beating the Wisconsin Badgers in overtime at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The difference on Thursday morning? Wisconsin was passed by 15 and the Jayhawks used second chance points and for the dagger at the end of regulation to create a win.

No rebounds, no rings.

Tyler Wahl was a maestro

11/23/2022; PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers forward Carter Gilmore (14) and Wisconsin Badgers forward Tyler Wahl (5) and Wisconsin Badgers forward Steven Crowl (22) celebrate after the game against the Dayton Flyers at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The most impressive part of Tyler Wahl’s team-best 23 points? The versatility and timeliness of when the points came. Whether it was as a ball handler in the pick-and-roll to put Wisconsin in the lead late in regulation, an offensive rebound, or a classic ten-dribble post-up that slowly develops that we’ll just rename “Tyler Wahling.” have to. the Badger senior was at his best.

Greg Gard hit the right buttons on sets and substitutions

11/23/2022; PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard reacts during the first half against the Dayton Flyers at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

After questions about why Essegian didn’t finish Wednesday’s game, Gard stayed with his freshman guard late Thursday morning. Gard was brilliant at timeouts and brought good luck to Wisconsin on multiple occasions.

Chucky Hepburn will find himself, but he must simplify

11/24/2022; PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers guard Chucky Hepburn (23) dribbles while Kansas Jayhawks guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) defends in the first half at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Diagnosing why Hepburn got off to a slow start boils down to trying to do too much. Without Johnny Davis, the sophomore likely felt the offensive pressure to start the year and has attempted to make home run plays when only singles are needed.

The team defense will lead Wisconsin to an NCAA tournament

11/24/2022; PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers players react after the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This defense is just too good to keep out of the NCAA tournament. Expect some ugly, Dayton-like victories for Wisconsin along the way, but also expect the Badgers to be in the field when the dust settles.

Story originally appeared on Badgers Wire

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