Wisconsin was locked in from start to finish and now it can lay claim as the undisputed top team in the Big Ten.Frank Kaminsky had 25 points and Sam Dekker added 20 points as the No. 6 Wisconsin men’s basketball team knocked off Minnesota Thursday night on the road, 76-63, to win the Big Ten regular season title outright.It is Wisconsin’s (17-3, 15-2 Big Ten) first outright conference regular season title since 2008 and assures the Badgers of the number one seed in the Big Ten tournament next week.“Well I’m proud of them,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “They had goals. I’ve been saying that all along. What’s in a player’s mind they only know but Frank made his intentions well-known along with some other guys. So we played it out and tonight we clinched it outright.”“To win it in a rivalry game on Minnesota’s court with so many of our own fans here is something pretty special,” Kaminsky said.The Gophers (17-13, 6-11 Big Ten) cut the Badgers’ lead down to six at 46-40 to start the second half after a three from Nate Mason but that would be as close as they would get for the rest of the game.Minnesota fought back one more time later in the half, trimming the lead to seven with 10:15 left in the game, but Wisconsin responded with a three from Josh Gasser and never let its lead dip below double-digits from that point on.Kaminsky and Dekker were joined by Nigel Hayes (12) in double-figures Thursday night. Hayes also added nine rebounds while Kaminsky and Dekker each added six.Kaminsky set a career-high with seven assists and was 10-for-15 from the floor including 2-for-4 from three.Wisconsin finished the game shooting 50 percent from both the field (28-for-56) and three-point (10-for-20).Mason finished with a team-high 15 points for the Gophers while Carlos Morris added 11 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Badgers were on their way to their second-straight win and fourth conference title under Ryan.The Badgers opened up the game on a 14-4 run and pushed their lead to 20 at 36-16 after a Hayes layup with 6:30 left in the half. Kaminsky had 13 points at that point and finished the half with 16 while Dekker added 14.Minnesota would battle back to finish the half down 10 at 44-34 but not after Wisconsin shot 63 percent (17-for-27) overall including 70 percent (7-for-10) from three over the first half of play.The Badgers’ 44 first half points were the most in a single half of a Big Ten road game this season for UW.“That’s when it’s really fun because everyone’s sharing the ball, everyone’s moving well,” Dekker said of the hot-shooting first half for the Badgers. “Then when you get on that it kind of become contagious and the hoop really opens up and hopefully we can continue to do that.”With the number one seed in the Big Ten tournament wrapped up, the Badgers will tip-off at 11 a.m. Friday morning. They’ll take on the winner of the eight seed vs. nine seed matchup from Thursday.Before the tournament begins next week, Wisconsin has one regular season game remaining. Sunday, the Badgers will be on the road once again to take on Ohio State in Columbus. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on CBS.
Men’s basketball: No. 6 Wisconsin earns outright Big Ten title with road win over Minnesota