MADISON, WIS. – Richard Pitino showed faith in Gabe Kalscheur, his junior captain, to fight through an early-season shooting slump.
It took longer than Kalscheur would've hoped, but he finally started to look like his old self Thursday with a team-high 15 points and seven rebounds in the Gophers' 71-59 loss at No. 6 Wisconsin.
"It was nice seeing it go in," he said. "I'm still not happy with my performance. I feel like I played OK. Shot selection could've done better. I tried to play my heart out for the team to get a win, but we came up short."
The former DeLaSalle standout hit three three-pointers for the first time in a game this season. Kalscheur reached that mark 12 times last season, including a school-record-tying eight threes against Nebraska in the home finale. But he was shooting just 19% (9-for-48) this year.
In the first half against Wisconsin, Kalscheur was the only Gophers player in double figures, scoring 12 points on 3-for-5 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 on free throws. The rest of the starters combined for only nine points on 2-for-17 shooting.
Marcus Carr and Both Gach, the U's other backcourt starters, combined for just five points on 2-for-7 shooting in the first half.
Even when his shot wasn't falling this season, Kalscheur drove to the basket more than he had in his previous two seasons, when he relied more on his three-point shooting. He led the Gophers with 41% shooting from beyond the arc as a freshman in 2018-19. His accuracy continued to dip from 34% as a sophomore, but his attitude and effort never wavered.
The Gophers leaned on Kalscheur to shut down Michigan State's Aaron Henry to 11 points on 3-for-10 shooting in Monday's win over the Spartans.
Pitino wished his entire team was as aggressive Thursday as Kalscheur, who had his highest-scoring game since having 17 points in the season opener vs. Green Bay.
"He was attacking," Pitino said. "We've got to get everybody doing that. It can't all be on Marcus. It's got to be everybody reading what the defense gives them. And I thought Gabe was certainly trying to do that."
Last game vs. home state program
Seniors Nate Reuvers and Brad Davison played against their home-state program several times during their Badgers career, but Thursday's game could have been their last.
The Gophers face their border rival only once during the regular season, the first time that's happened since 2017-18. Reuvers, a Lakeville native, finished with seven points, six rebounds and a block. Davison, a Maple Grove native, had five points and six rebounds.