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.''