The NC State men’s basketball team traveled to Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin and was unable to hold on to a double-digit second half lead and fell 78-74 to the No. 22 Badgers.
The Wolfpack (6-1) led 36-29 at the half in its first real challenge of the young season, and extended that to 41-29 in the second half, but Wisconsin (6-1) rallied throughout the latter 20 minutes and took the lead for good with 1:06 to go.
Wisconsin guard Brad Davison drew five charges in the game, including one on junior guard Markell Johnson with 18 seconds left and the Pack down three, looking to tie.
Johnson led the Pack with a career-high 21 points. He added five assists and three rebounds. Graduate guard Torin Dorn chipped in with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Redshirt junior C.J. Bryce had his best game in a Wolfpack uniform, scoring 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field. He shot 5 for 6 from the free throw line. Bryce scored 14 of those points in the second half after struggling with foul trouble in the first half.
Wisconsin star Ethan Happ scored 19 points, but only shot 8 for 18 from the field. D’Mitrik Trice scored 18 for the Badgers. Aleem Ford hadn’t scored yet this year, but hit four 3’s against the Wolfpack. No other Badger had more than five points.
As a team, the Wolfpack shot 39 percent from 3-point range while the Badgers shot 52 percent from distance.
NC State was called for 24 fouls while Wisconsin was whistled for 12, six in each half. There was one foul called on the Badgers in the last 10 minutes of the game. The Pack went 6 for 8 from the free throw line while Wisconsin went 12 for 20.
The foul disparity and 3-point shooting difference was too much for the Wolfpack to overcome.
NC State returns to action on Saturday in Miami for the HoopHall Miami Invitational against Vanderbilt. The game will tip at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.