Brust, Gasser lead No. 15 Wisconsin over Kennesaw

It was bad enough when Kennesaw State went nearly eight minutes

without a field goal early in the first half of the Owls’ season

opener at No. 15 Wisconsin.

It only got worse from there.

Kennesaw went another 11-plus minutes without a bucket after

snapping its first drought, and Wisconsin took advantage of the

Owls’ anemic offense and its own torrid 3-point shooting in an

85-31 victory on Saturday.

Ben Brust and Josh Gasser scored 14 points apiece to lead five

players in double figures as the Badgers made 15 3-pointers,

including seven of their first 10.

”There’s nothing more that you can say, except you’ve got to go

back to the drawing board,” first-year Kennesaw coach Lewis

Preston said.

Spencer Dixon banked in a 3-pointer for the Owls (0-1) on their

first possession for a 3-0 lead, but it was all downhill from

there.

Wisconsin (1-0) scored the next 16 points, capped by consecutive

3-pointers from Mike Bruesewitz.

Jared Berggren and Brust also added 3-pointers in the stretch.

Brust had three of his four 3s in the first half, and eight

different players connected from long range for the Badgers, whose

15 3-pointers tied for the second most in school history.

”They look good when they’re going down, that’s for sure,”

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. ”But they were good shots.”

The Badgers built a 41-8 halftime lead while holding the Owls to

just 13 percent (3 of 23) shooting from the field in the first

half. Kennesaw went scoreless for nearly eight minutes after

Dixon’s 3-pointer and went without a field goal for another 11:07

before Dixon hit a jumper just before the end of the half.

Wisconsin matched the school’s modern-era record, set in 1947,

for fewest points allowed in a half, and Kennesaw’s 31 points were

the fewest by a Badgers opponent since 1996 and fourth-fewest in

the modern era dating to 1946.

”When I go back and look at this film, if I don’t kick the TV

in, I’m going to go back and look at the number of open shots,”

Preston said. ”We probably missed five or six layups; we missed

some easy shots in the sweet spot.”

Berggren had back-to-back dunks to help the Badgers open the

second half with a 17-2 run before Markeith Cummings scored three

straight baskets to give Kennesaw State field goals on consecutive

possessions for the first time all game.

Cummings, the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason player of the

year, led Kennesaw State with 18 points, all but three in the

second half.

Gasser was 4 of 4 from the field, all on 3-pointers. He hit

back-to-back 3s in the second half in the middle of a 21-4

Wisconsin spurt after Cummings’ three straight buckets had made it

58-17.

The Badgers shot 58.8 percent overall and outrebounded the Owls

41-20.

Wisconsin had assists on 23 of its 30 field goals. Preseason

All-American point guard Jordan Taylor led the way with seven.

”We’re an unselfish team. We’ve got a lot of guys on the floor

that can hit shots,” said Gasser, one of three Badgers with four

assists each. ”We were just making the extra pass and fortunately

knocking them down.”

Ten different Badgers scored and five were in double figures, an

encouraging sign for a team that must replace nearly 50 percent of

its scoring from a team that made the NCAA round of 16 last

season.

”We’ve been saying for a while now that we’ve got a lot of guys

who can put the ball in the hole,” Taylor said. ”Guys who have

just kind of been waiting for their opportunity to step up, and

this year is the opportunity for a lot of guys. It’s exciting to

see the unselfish play and everybody knocking down shots and it

just kind of shows what we’re capable of.”