The game wasn't yet a minute old and guard Andre Hollins, his left ankle swelling, so sore he needed to be helped off the Williams Arena court, called his Minnesota Golden Gophers teammates around him.
"I'm done," he said. "It's up to you now. Everybody else has to step up."
And then they did. With backup center Maurice Williams having a career night, with tiny guard DeAndre Mathieu playing big, with the Gophers bench scoring 41 points, Minnesota beat the ninth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers 81-68 in front of a raucous 14,625 fans Wednesday night.
"They didn't need me tonight," said Hollins, in a protective boot and on crutches. He turned his ankle after making the first basket of the game. "They played great team basketball. Just a great team effort."
Walker scored 18 points, 14 in a dominant first half that forced the Badgers to change their defensive approach. Guard DeAngre Mathieu scored 18, 13 in the second half, including consecutive baskets with less than 9 minutes left that kept Wisconsin at bay. Guard Malik Smith scored 14, including a drive with 4:18 minutes left that kept Minnesota's lead at 11. Guard Austin Hollins scored 11, all in the second half, including a jam and a three-point play that pushed the lead to 12 late.
"It's unbelievable some of the guys who stepped up," said Gophers coach Rick Pitino, whose Gophers (15-5 overall, 4-3 in the Big Ten) pulled off their second home upset in as many weeks.
They beat Ohio State a week ago.
Forward Sam Dekker had 20 points for the Badgers (16-3, 3-3), who lose their third consecutive game. Forward Nigel Hayes had 12. Guard Josh Gasser and center Frank Kaminski each had nine.
The Gophers, who shot 33-for-56 (58.9 percent) never trailed. The Badgers, meanwhile, never seemed able to stop everything Minnesota threw at them. In the first half, Minnesota, led by Walker, dominated in the paint. In the second half, the Badgers shut that down, but let Mathieu, Smith and Austin Hollins got going.
"It's frustrating," Gasser said. "You're working hard. We were scoring fine. But when you don't get stops, it doesn't mean anything."
Added Badgers coach Bo Ryan: "You can't give up one thing, shut that off and give up something else."
Walker led the early chart as the Gophers, who led by as many as eight, took a six-point lead into halftime.
And Minnesota never gave in. Smith's three-point play pushed the lead to 12 at 13:01. Then Mathieu and Hollins got going to keep Wisconsin -- which warmed up considerably in the second half -- threatened to cut into the lead.
"We had to step up," Mathieu said. "The whole team had to come together, make plays. 'Dre makes all the big plays for us. He does everything. So, tonight, the whole team had to do it. We're a team. Everybody plays a role for this team. We just stuck together."
So, on a night without Andre Hollins, on a night when starting center Elliott Eliason didn't score a point, against a ranked team, the Gophers did it again.
"I don't' surprise myself," Walker said afterward. "I work hard in practice every day. I stay humble. I stay hungry and just keep working."
NOTES: Starting Minnesota G Andre Hollins, the team's leading scorer (16.3 ppg), left the game after hurting his left leg moments after making the game's first basket. Replays indicated Hollins may have turned his ankle. ... Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan had a 147-62 record in Big Ten play, a 70.3 winning percentage that is the best mark in history. ... Wisconsin's offense is its most productive in 19 years. Wisconsin had scored 70 or more points in nine straight games entering the game. ... This game ended a stretch in which the Gophers faced four straight teams ranked in the top 15 of the Associated Press poll. ... Minnesota entered the game leading the conference in steals per game (8.3) and field-goal percentage (75.0).