No. 13 Wisconsin 79, MVSU 45

Wisconsin has been doing a better job lately of getting to the

free throw line. Nothing this season has come close to Friday’s

performance against Mississippi Valley State.

Jordan Taylor scored 17 points to lead the 13th-ranked Badgers

to a 79-45 victory in which they took 44 free throws, 23 more than

their previous season-high.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said it was simply a matter of the

Badgers (11-2) taking advantage of what Mississippi Valley State

(1-10) presented defensively.

”They were just real physical,” Ryan said. ”They were going

to get you to turn it over or they were going to foul you.”

Unfortunately for the Delta Devils, they were much better at the

latter than the former.

Coach Sean Woods said the fouls hurt what the Delta Devils were

trying to do defensively and noted he was charged with a technical

foul for pointing out the discrepancy at that point in the game was

25-12. It ended up 29-15.

”You’re not going to beat any Wisconsin team of this magnitude

– and this is a pretty good Wisconsin team – if the foul

discrepancy is that bad,” Woods said. ”We have no chance to win

or even stay close.”

Playing for the first time in more than a week, the Badgers

showed no signs of rust, taking a 20-4 lead in the game’s first 8

minutes.

The Delta Devils were able to cut the lead to 11 points twice in

the first half and showed signs they might make it a game. But the

foul trouble and Wisconsin’s free throw shooting eventually wore

them down.

Reserve guard Brent Arrington fouled out for the Delta Devils in

23 minutes, and three others finished the game with four fouls.

Part of that came from the physical mismatches the Delta Devils

faced. The rest was more of an effort by the Badgers to get to the

line the last couple of weeks.

Over the first seven games, the Badgers were more of a perimeter

team, averaging more than 24 3-point attempts a game and just nine

free throw attempts. But Wisconsin had shown more balance over the

previous five games coming into Friday, taking almost 17 3s and

attempting more than 19 free throws.

On Friday, the Badgers took that trend to the other extreme.

They were 4 of 10 on 3s and 31 of 44 on free throws.

Josh Gasser, who finished with 11 points, said the Badgers

aren’t giving up on their perimeter game. They just took advantage

of the opportunities the Delta Devils’ defense presented to

them.

While happy with how often they got to the line, he said the

Badgers should have done a better job of converting once they got

there. They hit better than 70 percent of their opportunities, just

above their season average.

”The 31, we’d like to get that a little higher I think,”

Gasser said. ”We knew they’d pressure defensively like they did.

To offset that, you just have to drive hard and get to the free

throw line.”

Jared Berggren had 15 points for the Badgers, who play Tuesday

at Nebraska to open Big Ten play.

Paul Crosby and Terrence Joyner both scored 14 points for the

Delta Devils of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

This was the Delta Devil’s 11th of 12 straight games away from

home to start the season. They play at Iowa State on Dec. 31 before

finally playing at home on Jan. 3.

Woods said the extended road trip against the likes of North

Carolina, Arkansas, Northwestern and Florida is starting to take

its toll. He told his players they have off until Tuesday and won’t

practice again until Wednesday.

”When you put so much into something, something good has to

come out of it and our goal is to win our league and get into the

NCAA tournament, and we’re on the right track with that,” he

said.