MADISON, Wis. — Presbyterian basketball coach Gregg Nibert knew his team didn’t possess the size or depth to match up with Wisconsin on Tuesday night at the Kohl Center. His only option was to throw a zone at the Badgers and hope to the heavens the basketball suddenly had an allergic reaction to the nets.
The Blue Hose found no such luck.
Wisconsin drilled 16 of 37 3-point attempts during an 88-43 destruction of Presbyterian, as Badgers guard Ben Brust buried six 3s and George Marshall four.
“Whenever we made a mistake, they made us pay,” Nibert said. “We’ve played a lot of good teams in this five years of us being Division I, but that was the greatest display of shooting and passing that I’ve seen.”
Brust likely would have had a shot at the school record of seven — which he tied twice last season — had he not exited the game for good with seven minutes remaining. The entire scene was a welcome sight for Wisconsin, which has struggled this season from long range.
In their last two games, the Badgers made 13 of 46 attempts.
“I thought we made the extra pass,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “I thought we moved the ball well against Syracuse’s zone last year. The problem was we still needed more. This team wasn’t the length or the bounce. But the extra pass was there. You make the extra pass sometimes, you get a much better look.”
Wisconsin actually made just 6 of 20 3-pointers in the first half but connected on 10 of 17 tries in the second half against Presbyterian, which left gaping holes around the perimeter. The Badgers came within one made 3-pointer of tying the school record.
UW also recorded 24 assists, its highest output since tallying 24 against Florida A&M on Nov. 16, 2007.
“That’s exactly what we talked about,” Brust said. “We knew we were going to get good looks. Getting a great look is something that we did.”
The outcome was never in doubt on Tuesday for the Badgers, who established a 22-2 lead after 10 minutes against a totally undersized and outmanned Blue Hose unit. So if nothing else, the game served as a confidence booster for a team that lost some of its swagger during a 74-56 loss at Florida last week.
Freshman Sam Dekker scored 16 points and made a pair of 3-pointers against Presbyterian.
“I just try to come in and provide a spark for our team and just get more confidence, accepting my role,” Dekker said. “I’ve never had to come off the bench before. Now that I’ve done it the past few games, I’ve gotten used to it. I try to bring energy.”
Badgers center Frank Kaminsky, who struggled during the team’s first three games, also came to life. He scored 10 points on 4 of 4 field goal shooting and made his first 3-pointer of the season. Through three games, he had scored 10 total points and was 0 for 5 from 3-point range.
“Confidence,” Kaminsky said of his improved play. “I was in a little bit of a slump for the past week. I just wanted to go out there and bring energy and play with confidence, and it worked out.”
Wisconsin (3-1) certainly will need that confidence in its next game, when it plays Creighton on Friday in Las Vegas as part of the Vegas Invitational. As a point of reference, Creighton defeated Presbyterian 87-58 last week and made 12 of 24 3-pointers.
Nibert didn’t pick a winner for the Wisconsin-Creighton game but did say he thought it would be decided between 2-4 points.
“I’ve lost some games, but I don’t think we’ve ever lost as bad as we’ve lost tonight,” he said. “Both teams will be in the Sweet 16.”