Ben Brust has to think pretty far back to recall the last time he hoisted a championship trophy.
”I won a baseball championship (in middle school). It was an epic comeback,” the sophomore guard said following Wisconsin’s 73-56 victory over BYU Saturday night for the Chicago Invitational Challenge title. ”So it feels good to get that monkey off my back,”
Brust made sure the Badgers weren’t in the same boat this time, scoring a game-high 21 points as No. 11 Wisconsin improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1996-97.
”Teammates found me and I just knocked them down,” said Brust, who hit 7 of 10 from beyond the arc, including five in the second half. ”When you’re open you’ve got to shoot it.”
Tournament MVP Jordan Taylor added 18 points, while Mike Bruesewitz and Jared Berggren had 13 points apiece for Wisconsin. Forward Noah Hartsock paced the Cougars (4-2) with 18 points.
The teams were tied at 42 when Brust hit the first of his trio of 3-pointers during an 11-0 run that gave the Badgers a 53-42 lead with 8:47 to play.
Saturday’s game was the first meeting between Wisconsin and BYU in nearly 80 years. The Badgers beat the Cougars 32-16 on Dec. 11, 1931, in Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin made its first six shots — including five 3-pointers from four different players — on the way to an early 22-10 lead. Taylor had two 3s in the hot start.
But BYU took advantage of five missed Wisconsin shots and three turnovers to tie it at 24 on freshman Damarcus Harrison’s 3-pointer at the 8:57 mark. The Cougars claimed their first lead at 28-26 on Stephen Rogers’ fadeaway baseline jumper.
BYU’s zone and some poor Badger decision-making contributed to that surge.
”It looked like some decisions we made with the ball were decisions that we’re known for,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.
The Badgers shot 51 percent (27 for 53) from the field, including 13 for 24 from 3-point range. BYU shot 43 percent (22 for 51) and went 1 for 10 from long range.
Until Saturday, no opponent had scored more than 50 points on Wisconsin.
Wisconsin and BYU both resume play Wednesday. The Badgers travel to top-ranked North Carolina, while the Cougars host Northern Arizona in the Lumberjack Classic.