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.