IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The first 2,000 fans through the doors for Iowa’s home game with No. 16 Wisconsin on Thursday night got a free bobblehead of Hawkeyes senior Matt Gatens.
Gatens made sure the other 12,000 or so were left with something to remember him by as well.
Gatens scored a career-high 33 points and Iowa beat No. 16 Wisconsin 67-66 for its second straight win over a ranked opponent.
It was the second straight career-high for Gatens, who had 30 points in Iowa’s win over then-No. 18 Indiana on Sunday. He was 7 of 10 shooting from 3-point range in both games, and at one point hit 12 straight 3s dating to that effort against the Hoosiers.
“As a shooter sometimes you get in those zones, and luckily for me it’s going over a few games,” Gatens said. “You get in that zone and you don’t really care who’s on you or where they’re at. You just want to get the ball and put it in.”
Wisconsin (20-8, 9-6 Big Ten) lost for just the third time in 11 games, largely because Gatens kept getting the ball and putting it in.
The Badgers did get within 65-63 on Jordan Taylor’s layup with 4 seconds left. But Gatens made two free throws to cap his brilliant night for the Hawkeyes (15-13, 7-8), who celebrated along with a rowdy bunch of students who stormed the court.
Taylor’s meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer was the closest the Badgers would get in the second half.
Josh Gasser and Ryan Evans each had 14 points for Wisconsin, which never led and got swept by Iowa in the regular season for the first time since 1994-95.
“He’s playing really well, and we knew it. It’s not like we were surprised,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said about Gatens. “You’ve got to give the guy credit when he knocks those kinds of shots down. There was a lot of up hands. It wasn’t hand down, man down. Those were tough shots.”
With Gatens hitting from long range, Taylor saddled with three fouls and Iowa ahead by 13 points with 17:33 left, it looked nearly hopeless for the Badgers early in the second half.
Wisconsin rallied behind its well-honed resiliency, getting within a possession midway through the second half.
Iowa answered with Gatens, the heart of soul of a program that he’s helped appear as promising as it’s been since he arrived four years ago.
The Badgers rattled off a 12-2 run, capped when former Iowa commit Ben Brust drilled a 3 in transition to cut the Hawkeyes’ lead to 51-48 with 12:56 to go. But Gatens followed two jumpers with challenged 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to push Iowa back ahead 61-50 with 9:13 to go.
Aaron White added 12 points for Iowa. The Hawkeyes won despite going the final 7:29 without a field goal and allowing the Badgers to keep pulling within a possession in a final minute that was more frantic than it needed to be.
“When you’re playing well and you’ve got a lead like that, you’ve just got to shut the door,” White said. “That’s the next step, along with consistent effort like we had tonight.”
Iowa pulled off what at the time appeared to be a stunning New Year’s Eve result; beating Wisconsin 72-65 at the Kohl Center for their first victory in Madison since 2000.
It didn’t look so stunning after the first 20 minutes of the rematch.
Iowa came out and scored 16 points in less than 5 minutes against the nation’s leader in fewest points allowed per game. Gatens hit his first six shots as the Hawkeyes pushed their lead to 35-24.
Melsahn Basabe capped a rousing stretch for Iowa, throwing down a dunk off a through-the-legs pass from Devyn Marble, and White’s slam off another turnover helped put Iowa ahead 43-34 at halftime.
The Hawkeyes were just nine points from topping Wisconsin’s 51.1 points with a half to go. Not surprisingly, it was by far the most the Badgers had let up in the first half all season.
Gatens’ streak ended at 12 straight 3-pointers, and his bid for 13 early in the second half rattled off the rim.
“When someone’s that hot, there’s really nothing you can do,” Evans said.
Rob Wilson chipped in 11 points, Brust had 10 and Taylor finished with nine points, four assists and four turnovers for Wisconsin, which closes out its Big Ten road slate at No. 8 Ohio State on Sunday.
“We’ll prepare for them like we prepare for any other game. We know what we’re facing. We know who they are, where they are. We’ll find the gym and compete,” Ryan said about the Buckeyes.