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Gophers slide back into the pack

By Andres Ybarra

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Wisconsin Badgers have sure created a ruckus in the Big Ten standings.

After complicating the race for first place with an upset of Indiana on Wednesday night, the Badgers rallied behind 30 points from Kirk Penney and beat Minnesota 67-62 on Saturday -- sliding into third place ahead of the Golden Gophers.

"On Wednesday night, we were just hanging," Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. "Today, we were clawing at somebody else. That's two wins on the road two different ways. That's what I'm most impressed with."

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In front of Minnesota's largest home crowd of the season (14,854), the Badgers jumped out to a quick start, fell behind, and then closed out the game by scoring 21 points on their last 10 possessions.

"It kept going back and forth, but we just had the momentum," said Penney, who scored 27 of his points in the second half.

Trailing 56-48 with 4:26 to play, Penney hit one of his six three-pointers to key the 19-6 run that gave Wisconsin their fourth straight win. Penney completed a three-point play after being fouled on a driving layup, giving Wisconsin a 62-60 lead with 41.4 seconds to play.

Jerry Holman missed his jumper on Minnesota's next possession and Penney came back and scored on a breakaway layup. Penney's two free-throws with 12.2 left sealed the win.

"Kirk got hot there because some guys got him open," Ryan said. "He used the screens well. He made hard cuts to the basket. Guys gave him great post feeds."

Penney finished 9 of 13 from the field, including 6-for-9 from behind the arc.

"If I could do that every night, that would be great," he said.

Holman led Minnesota with 17 points and Rick Rickert added 12.

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The loss reduced the Gophers' (14-9, 7-5 Big Ten) chance to get in the NCAA tournament. The Gophers play at Michigan State on Thursday.

"We can't drop many games and now that we're going on the road, we have to play well," coach Dan Monson said. "Like in the beginning of the year, our goal is to get to the NCAA and that's still in the picture."

WISCONSIN (16-11, 9-5)

Penney 9-13 6-7 30, Wills 1-4 0-2 2, Mader 2-4 2-2 6, Davis 3-7 3-5 9, Harris 3-9 3-3 11, Hanson 0-0 0-0 0, Owens 1-4 0-0 3, Plank 0-1 0-0 0, Wilkinson 2-9 2-2 6. Totals 21-51 16-21 67.

MINNESOTA (14-9, 7-5)

Rickert 5-15 1-2 12, Rychart 4-6 0-0 8, Holman 7-10 3-6 17, Fleming 2-5 0-0 6, Bennett 1-1 0-0 2, Robinson 0-1 0-0 0, Hargrow 2-4 2-2 6, Burleson 1-6 0-0 2, Esselink 1-2 0-0 2, Bauer 3-4 0-0 7. Totals 26-54 6-10 62.

Halftime--Minnesota 34, Wisconsin 29. 3-Point Goals--Wisconsin 9-23 (Penney 6-9, Harris 2-6, Owens 1-2, Wills 0-2, Davis 0-2, Wilkinson 0-2), Minnesota 4-18 (Fleming 2-3, Rickert 1-6, Bauer 1-2, Burleson 0-4, Rychart 0-1, Robinson 0-1, Hargrow 0-1). Fouled out--Mader. Rebounds--Wisconsin 29 (Davis 8), Minnesota 34 (Rychart 8). Assists--Wisconsin 14 (Davis 7), Minnesota 20 (Rickert 5). Total fouls--Wisconsin 14, Minnesota 20. A--14,854.

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