Another test, this one a road game, for Greg Gard’s young Wisconsin team.
And though the Badgers got off to a slow start, struggled at times to score and didn’t perform up to their standard at the free-throw line, they found a way to win again.
Senior guard Brad Davison scored 27 points and and sophomore guard Johnny Davis added 15 to help UW hold off Georgia Tech, 70-66, Wednesday night in Atlanta in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
“I am so proud of the way we responded,” Davison said. “For a lot of guys in the locker room, that is their first true road game with a loud crowd.”
Two days after debuting at No. 21 in the USA Today coaches poll, the Badgers (6-1) outscored Georgia Tech, 9-5, over the final 5 minutes 8 seconds to extend their winning streak to four games.
UW’s next game is set for 11:30 a.m. Saturday against visiting Marquette (7-1).
Georgia Tech (5-2), the No. 10 pick in the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason poll, saw its winning streak snapped at five games.
BOX SCORE: UW 70, Georgia Tech 66
Davison hit 5 of 9 three-pointers and 9 of 16 shots overall. He also hit 4 of 5 free throws, including 2 of 2 with 18.2 seconds left to help UW take a 68-64 lead.
Davis hit 2 of 4 three-pointers and 4 of 9 shots overall. He had four of UW’s eight turnovers but added six rebounds, five of the team’s 13 assists.
He also had a crucial block with 4:01 left on a drive by senior guard Michael Devoe and Georgia Tech within 63-61.
“Johnny made a big play on him,” Gard said, “and obviously we were able to make free throws down the stretch to seal it.”
Junior forward Tyler Wahl (9.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) added nine points, including six in the second half. His basket with 3:34 left gave UW a 65-61 lead.
Chucky Hepburn hit two free throws with 11.2 seconds left to push UW’s lead to 70-64 and finished with seven points, three assists, two rebounds, one block and one steal.
Steven Crowl and Lorne Bowman added five points apiece. Chris Vogt contributed six rebounds and one assist in 15 minutes. Jahcobi Neath, playing for the first time since the opener, added two points in six minutes.
The Badgers entered the game shooting 83.0% from the free-throw line but made just 15 of 22 attempts (68.2%). They started off 3 of 7, finished the first half 8 of 12 but hit 7 of 10 attempts after halftime.
“I thought the first half we were a little jittery,” Gard said. “First road environment for some of these guys showed but I thought we settled in a little bit.”
Devoe entered the night shooting 62.1% from three-point range (18 of 29), 56.9% overall (41 of 72) and averaging 23.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
He was better than advertised in the opening half when he hit 5 of 7 three-pointers and 6 of 10 shots overall en route to 17 points.
Devoe didn’t hit a three-pointer after halftime but finished with 33 points and six rebounds. He hit 5 of 10 three-pointers and 11 of 20 shots overall.
“He is a heck of a player,” Gard said. “We made a couple mistakes on him in the first half and he got two (three-pointers) off offensive rebounds, too. Once we got that under control it helped.”
No other Georgia Tech player scored in double figures.
The Yellow Jackets came in holding teams to 27.3% three-point shooting and 66.2 points per game.
Davison and Davis combined to hit 7 of 13 three-pointers and UW, shooting just 28.8% from three-point range entering Wednesday, hit 9 of 24 attempts (37.5%).
UW held a 44-41 lead in the second half when Davison went off and scored nine consecutive points in a span of 1:45 to help UW build the lead to 53-43 with 11:41 left.
“As someone who puts a lot of time on their shot, I trust it,” said Davison, who hit two mid-range jumpers, a three-pointer and another two-pointer in that span. “When I see a couple go in, the hoop gets a little bigger.”
Devoe scored four points to spark a 7-0 run and the Yellow Jackets eventually pulled back to even at 61-61 on a three-point play by Devoe with 5:27 left.
Hepburn then hit two free throws to give UW a 63-61 lead; Davis stuffed Devoe on a drive; and Wahl scored in the lane for a 65-61 lead with 3:34 left.
Could UW close out strong?
Wahl grabbed a critical defensive rebound with 19 seconds left and UW leading, 66-64. He passed to Davison, who was fouled. Davison hit both free throws with 18.2 seconds left.
Deivon Smith (nine points) missed a drive contested by Wahl and Hepburn was fouled and hit both free throws for a 70-64 lead.
“They were feeding off their crowd,” Davison said, “but we responded to every punch and we got to throw the last couple.
“Pretty awesome win for this group.”
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin at Georgia Tech in ACC/Big Ten challenge, game updates