MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Leave it to Bo Ryan to find fault with No. 4 Wisconsin’s biggest margin of victory of the young season or tying its best start in 70 years.
But his players couldn’t agree more.
Though Ben Brust scored 18 points and Frank Kaminsky added 16 as the Badgers remained undefeated with a 78-52 victory over in-state rival Milwaukee on Wednesday night, Ryan and his players weren’t exactly thrilled with the effort.
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Despite its reputation as a disciplined basketball team, the Badgers committed three straight turnovers after missing their first shot. Other than Brust, they struggled offensively to open the game. And they were t 1 of 13 from behind the 3-point line in the second half.
Still, that might seem a little nitpicky to some considering all the other things they did well.
“We’re going to see a lot in clips tomorrow,” Brust promised. “There’s definitely some things that we missed, the bad start. There’s just spots throughout the whole game where we could have played a better 40 minutes altogether, but a good win. You can’t be mad about that.”
This is rarefied air for the Badgers. Going 11-0 to open the season matches their record to open 1993-94, the program’s best start since 1943. They have also cracked The Associated Press’ top 5 for only the second season with the 2006-07 squad reaching No. 1.
Not that Ryan is taking any time to really bask in that.
“It’s like in class,” Ryan said. “You do your assignments and then you get credit for them, and if you do them well, you get stars on your paper and a pat on the back. But if you stop doing them well, then everything else just kind of goes the other way.”
Though Wisconsin was far from perfect, it used one run to blow the game open and then capitalized on repeated mistakes by Milwaukee (9-3) to make sure the game stayed out of reach.
Early on, only Brust was connecting. But he hit his first six shots, including four from behind the 3-point line. That was good enough to help the Badgers open a 22-13 lead more than midway through the first half even as his teammates opened 3 of 11.
Then the rest of the team found its stroke.
Wisconsin reeled off a 23-7 run that featured five 3-pointers by five Badgers to blow the game open, and the Badgers finished the half 9 for 13 from deep.
Sam Dekker and Traevon Jackson scored 12 points apiece for Wisconsin.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, couldn’t get out of the hole it dug in the first half, when the Panthers turned the ball over 11 times and the Badgers turned them into 18 points. Things got marginally better in the second half, when the Panthers committed another eight turnovers that resulted in 10 more Wisconsin points. The 19 turnovers tied their season high.
Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter, a former assistant to Ryan, said the Panthers were trying to make “everything happen in one pass, one play.”
“We just didn’t have the opportunities that we needed to to give yourself a chance against a Wisconsin team,” Jeter said. “Turn the ball that many times, give up 28 points, that’s hard to overcome when they are shooting the ball the way they did in the first half.”
Kyle Kelm scored 17 points to lead the Panthers, while Matt Tiby added 11.
Tiby came in as the Panthers’ leading scorer, and though he finished in double figures, the Badgers played him physically all game. Kaminsky blocked Tiby’s first shot and the Milwaukee forward was 3 for 10 and had six turnovers.
Milwaukee cut the Badgers’ lead to 16 points once in the second half, but that was snuffed out by a quick 10-0 Wisconsin run.
“We knew he’s a worker,” Ryan said of Tiby. “We know he brings a lot of fire to the court. He’s tenacious. So we just tried to match that and then some, just tried to make his looks tougher.”