MADISON, Wis. - With a three-game win streak at its back, Wisconsin entered Sunday's game at the Kohl Center looking to tighten the Big Ten regular season title race.
Those plans went awry midway through the second half as the Badgers shooting went cold in a 69-56 loss to Purdue on Senior Day. The loss snapped a remarkable streak of 11 consecutive wins in Wisconsin's regular season finale.
"We've had games like this before where we've found ways to come out on the winning side when shots aren't dropping for us," senior Jared Berggren said. "You'd like to be able to rely on your defense on nights like that when your shots aren't dropping. Today we couldn't do that."
After shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half and making six of its first 10 3-point shots, Wisconsin (20-9, 11-5) missed its final 18 3-pointers, including all 12 of its attempts in the second half. Berggren scored 13 points and Ryan Evansand Sam Dekker had 10 apiece for the Badgers, who had won six of their previous seven.
"I thought our guys did a good job taking them out of rhythm, and when they had a couple that were open, I thought they rushed them a little bit," Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said. "Sometimes that happens when you fight to get an open one."
Meanwhile, Wisconsin couldn't handle the combination of Johnson slicing through the lane and Byrd connecting from beyond the arc.
"We kept getting shots in the paint, and that opened things up for D.J. on the outside," said Johnson, who scored 10 points in the second half. "It was a snowball effect. Guys started making shots, guys started rebounding harder."
Byrd hit three 3-pointers and Johnson added four baskets in the big run for Purdue. Wisconsin, meanwhile, missed five of six shots from the field and committed four turnovers in the 7:31 stretch as it fell behind 54-45.
"I thought we really did a good job rebounding, offensively and defensively," said Byrd, who hit six of nine 3-pointers and matched his season high for points. "It gave us extra opportunities to knock down shots and extra opportunities just to have the ball in our hands."
The Badgers, who won their previous three games by at least 20 points, opened up a 13-point lead in the first half and led by nine early in the second half.
"We had them down, and we just didn't step on their throats like we needed to," Wisconsin's Mike Bruesewitz said.
Sandi Marcius complemented Byrd and Johnson, scoring eight of his 10 points in the second half to reach double figures for just the second time this season.
"We kept battling back," Painter said. "For this team, it's only happened one time all year. It's a real tribute to our guys just staying with it this time of year."
Wisconsin is still mathematically alive in the Big Ten chase, but it seems highly unlikely the Badgers will claim their first title since 2007-08. They'll need to win their final two games, Thursday at No. 9 Michigan State and next Sunday at Penn State, and get a lot of help to claim a share of the championship.
The Badgers travel to East Lansing to take on Michigan State on Thursday. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. (CT) on ESPN.