Monday, November 19, 2012

Game Recap: Cornell 40, Wisconsin 73

Game recaps from Sunday are below... Video Replay (click here)

Ryan Wittman, one of the red-hot shooters who helped Cornell bounce the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team out of the 2010 NCAA tournament, was seated behind the visitors’ bench Sunday evening at the Kohl Center.

Fortunately for the Badgers, Wittman has exhausted his eligibility and was in street clothes.

And none of his running mates from that senior-laden team that made a stunning run to the Sweet 16 as a No. 12 seed were around to break UW’s hearts once again.

This Cornell team bears no resemblance to that one, and it showed during the No. 22 Badgers’ 73-40 victory in a non-conference game that is part of the Las Vegas Invitational.

Junior guard Ben Brust posted his second double-double in eight days, finishing with 18 points and 12 rebounds, and senior forward Jared Berggren added 18 points and four blocked shots to help UW (2-1) bounce back from an 18-point loss at No. 10 Florida on Wednesday.

“This was the next 40 minutes,” UW coach Bo Ryan said. “Thirty-five of it, 34 of it, was pretty good.

“(There are) five or six minutes of it in there that we think we could change.”

Senior forward Ryan Evans added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Badgers, who used a 14-0 run early in the game to end any hopes of an upset for the Big Red (1-3).

Cornell shot 26.2 percent overall and 13.3 percent from 3-point range.

The outing was a far cry from the shooting clinic Wittman and Co. put on in the 2010 postseason, when the Big Red shot 61.1 percent overall and 53.3 percent from beyond the arc to beat the Badgers 87-69 in a second-round game in the NCAA tournament.

After taking a 2-0 lead Sunday, Cornell went its next nine possessions without scoring and the Badgers pulled away early.

“I was even probably a little surprised, as our players were, at their size and how well they defended,” Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. “Just a heck of a defensive ballclub that don’t allow you to get anything around the basket.”

Florida shot 61.9 percent in its 74-56 victory over UW, but Ryan was much more pleased with his team’s defensive effort this time around.

“If you’re going to take a snapshot, I thought we did some good things defensively,” Ryan said. “Because Cornell can penetrate, Cornell can do some things with the ball. … What we did do a good job of was chesting up and not leaving our feet and not getting ourselves out of position, and that accounts for the shooting percentage of the other team.

“… I thought we stuck to our rules defensively a little bit better.”

What UW didn’t do a particularly good job of was taking care of the ball. The Badgers finished with 16 turnovers, some of which came when Cornell went to a trapping defense in the first half that seemed to fluster some of UW’s younger players.

“We were just making quick decisions and not making ball fakes,” Ryan said. “You don’t dribble exchange on double teams, which we talked about in practice.

“It was just one of those things that under the lights, we have some guys that don’t have a lot of experience. … The other turnovers came as a result of just trying to do too many things too fast.”

It’s all part of the learning curve for UW.

Now, the Badgers will host Presbyterian on Tuesday before heading to Las Vegas for a semifinal game against No. 15 Creighton.

“Sixteen turnovers is way too much,” Brust said. “We don’t get that in two, three games sometimes.

“So we definitely have to clean it up.”

For the second straight game, the Cornell men’s basketball team (1-2) attempted a furious comeback in the last few minutes, but again fell short against St. Peter’s (3-0) last Friday night. The Red was down by 11 after a three by St. Peter’s guard Desi Washington with 2:44 left to play before unleashing a 9-0 run in just over one minute. The Red played great defense for the next 35 seconds as St. Peter’s got off a contested jump shot with no time left on the shot clock, but they grabbed offensive rebound, regrouped and then scored a lay-up to put the game away.

The first half was characterized by big runs as the Peacocks led 22-11 with 7:03 remaining the first half before the Red finished the half on a 16-5 run, trailing just 28-26 going into the break. This run was led by sophomore guard Devin Cherry, who scored eight of the Red’s 16 points in the last seven minutes. Cherry had his second strong game in a row, finishing the game with 14 points, seven rebounds and two assists, leading the team in both points and rebounds. Sophomores Galal Cancer and Shonn Miller both finished with 13 points apiece and freshman Nolan Cressler dropped 10 points including two more three-pointers.

St. Peter’s guard Blaise Ffrench led the Peacock’s attack, finishing with 22 points — a career high — shooting 10-of-12 from the field and four assists. Before this game, he was averaging just four points on the year.

The second half was very even until a stretch in the middle of the half when St. Peter’s hit three from deep in three straight possessions in the span of just over a minute to suddenly expand their lead from 45-43 to 54-43, typing its biggest lead of the game. Cornell tried to chip away at the lead but every time the Red got closer, the Peacocks responded with a big shot.

The Red’s biggest issue this game was its defense, which had been a strength thus far into the season. The Peacocks shot 48% from the field and were getting everything they wanted in the lane as Ffrench continually penetrated the lane and scored on lay-ups. The 9-0 St. Peter’s run in the second half was a result of their success with penetration earlier in the game, as the Red sagged off their assignments to assist on penetration, leaving the Peacocks with wide-open three point shots. In fact, six of its seven threes were made in the second half, after establishing its ability to get to the rim.

Something the Red never took advantage of until late was St. Peter’s lack of size. After starting forward Darius Conley left the game due to injury, St. Peter’s biggest player was Markese Tucker, a 6-foot-5, 240 lb. player. Instead, the Red went away from its size and tried to match the Peacock’s speed with its own, routinely playing many four-guard lineups with just one big man down low. The Red changed this philosophy at the end by going to Shonn Miller in the post for three straight possessions, but it was too little too late. The Peacocks led the rebounding category 39-33 despite their lack of size.

The Red (1-3) tried to bounce back last night but its opponent, No. 22/20 Wisconsin (2-1), was not to be taken lightly, as the Badgers routed the Red 73-40.

Wisconsin took a commanding lead right out the gate as they began the game with a 23-4 run in 11 minutes, essentially putting the game out of reach already. The Red tried to mount comebacks, but the Badgers never allowed them to get within 13 points of the lead.

Wisconsin’s trademark defense bothered the Red as it shot just 26% from the field and was just 2-15 from three. The Red was also completely dominated on the boards, as Wisconsin held an enormous 50-26 edge in the rebound department. The Red also committed 18 turnovers, led by Cancer’s five, which is something he had improved on this season up to this point.

For the third straight game, Cherry led the team in scoring off the bench with 13, but he did commit four turnovers as well. No other player scored more than six points. Cherry and Cressler’s emergence have affected the playing time of senior guard Johnny Gray, who was

expected to make a huge impact on the team this year. He played just seven minutes against Wisconsin.

The Red continues its brutal road trip — playing six games in New York, Wisconsin, Arizona and Las Vegas in 10 days — on Tuesday night as they face-off against another major conference team, Arizona State.


After a dismal performance on defense in its last game, Wisconsin turned up the pressure againstCornell.

The 22nd-ranked Badgers had allowed Florida to shoot 62 percent from the field in a loss on Wednesday, they no such problems in Sunday's 73-40 win over the Big Red.

''What we did do a good job of was chesting up and not leaving our feet and not getting out of position, and that accounts for the shooting percentage of the other team, Cornell,'' said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. ''I thought we stuck to our rules a little better.''

The Big Red (1-3) started just 1 of 11 and Cornell found itself down 27-8 with just less than 8 minutes to go in the first half. Cornell then went to a trapping defense that had some success in forcing Wisconsin (2-1) turnovers and picking up the pace of the game as the Big Red cut it to 27-14.

But the pressing defense also left Wisconsin shooters open, and the Badgers hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions. A Sam Dekker steal and dunk on the breakaway pushed the lead to 38-16 with just more than 3 minutes left in the first half, and Wisconsin largely cruised from there.

''That kind of broke our backs a little bit right in the beginning of the game,'' said Cornell coach Bill Courtney. ''Our guys continued to fight, but I think we were just a little bit overmatched tonight.''

It was a struggle offensively most of the night for Cornell, which was led by Devin Cherry with 13 points. Cornell ended up shooting just 26 percent and was outrebounded 54-31, the most boards a Wisconsin team has turned in under Ryan.

Meanwhile, 6-foot-1 guard Ben Brust turned in a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Jared Berggren scored 18 and Ryan Evans had a double-double of his own with 12 points and 10 boards.

Brust averaged 2.2 boards a game last season, but is now averaging eight a game early in the season. The 6-10 Berggren joked after Sunday's game, ''I am just sick of it because he's stealing all my stats.''

But Brust said it was simply a matter of opportunity with Cornell shooting poorly. With Florida shooting so well on Wednesday, Brust grabbed just two boards.

''That's why there was so many chances for rebounds because we actually got them to miss shots compared to Florida,'' Brust said. ''There wasn't a lot of opportunities for rebounds (against Florida) because we didn't force them into enough tough shots.''

It could have been worse for the Big Red, but Wisconsin was uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball, committing 16 turnovers. That snapped a streak of 69 straight games with 13 or fewer.

Courtney said Cornell hoped the pressure would disrupt the flow of the Wisconsin offense and force the Badgers to speed things up. But he said Ryan made the necessary adjustments to cut that off.

Ryan believed inexperience hurt the Badgers in dealing with the pressure and said his players sometimes put their teammates in a tough spot that led to the turnover.

''It was just one of those things under the lights, we've got some guys who didn't have a lot of experience,'' he said.

The game was the first of four in seven days for Wisconsin as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. Aft

After hosting Presbyterian on Tuesday, the Badgers head to Las Vegas to face No. 15 Creighton.

MADISON, WIS. — Wisconsin raced to a 19-point lead after 11 minutes and was never threatened thereafter in a 73-40 non-league men’s basketball victory against Cornell in the first round of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational on Sunday at the Kohl Center.

Cornell (1-3), which has dropped consecutive games against St. Bonaventure, Saint Peter’s and the Badgers over the past five days, continues play in the Las Vegas Invitational when it meets Arizona State at 9 p.m. Tuesday. That game will be televised by the Pac 12 Network.

Guard Ben Brust (12 rebounds) and forward Jared Berggren scored 18 points apiece to lead the Badgers (2-1), who trailed 2-0 before going on runs of 14-0 and 9-0 over the next eight minutes to take a 23-4 lead.

The Big Red went on a 6-0 run to pull to within 13 points, 27-14, with five minutes to play in the half, but Cornell trailed at the break, 42-25, and never recovered.

Cornell’s Devin Cherry hit a 3-pointer with 151/2 minutes to play, pulling Cornell to within 18 at 50-32, but the Badgers responded with a 20-5 run over the next 10 minutes to salt the game away.

Cherry led Cornell with 13 points; no other Big Red player had more than six. Shonn Miller had a team-high seven rebounds.

• Saint Peter’s 68, Cornell 64: On Friday night, for the second consecutive game, the Red men rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final minutes only to fall short in the end. This time, a Saint Peter’s offensive rebound gained the Peacocks (3-0) an extra possession they were able to convert on in the final minute as the visitors escaped Newman Arena with a four-point win.

Devin Cherry scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead four double-figure scorers, including sophomores Miller (13 points, 3 blocks) and Galal Cancer (13 points, 5 rebounds) and and freshman Nolan Cressler (10 points, 3 rebounds).

Saint Peter’s was able to score in multiple ways, scoring 32 points in the paint while hitting seven timely 3-pointers.

The Peacocks turned the ball over just 12 times against Cornell’s pressure and connected on 47 percent of its shots overall.

Blaise Ffrench had a career-high 22 points and Yvon Raymond added 14 for the Peacocks.

Box Score

Box Score (PDF)
Portions of the text taken from the Associated Press Story

MADISON, Wis. – No. 22/20 Wisconsin opened the game on a 23-4 run over the first 11 minutes and cruised to a 73-40 decision over Cornell on Sunday evening at the Kohl Center. The game was the first for both teams in the 2012 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. The Badgers improved to 2-1, while the Big Red slipped to 1-3.
Devin Cherry was the lone double figure scorer for the Big Red with 13 points, while Miles Asafo-Adjei netted six points, two rebounds and two assists. Cornell's other four leading scorers, Galal Cancer, Shonn Miller, Errick Peck and Nolan Cressler combined for 4-of-25 shooting for 11 points to go along with eight turnovers. As a team, the Big Red hit on just 26 percent of its shots and 2-of-15 shooting from beyond the arc. Miller did have seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
Wisconsin physically controlled the game with their size, outrebounding Cornell 54-31, blocking nine shots and adding 10 steals to the defensive effort. Ben Brust and Jared Berggren each scored a game-high 18 points, with Brust adding 12 rebounds and four assists and Berggren chipped in seven rebounds and four blocked shots.
In losing to No. 10 Florida 74-56 on Wednesday, the Badgers allowed the Gators to shoot 75 percent in the first half and 62 percent for the game. But it was clear from the start Sunday there would be no repeat of that performance.
The Big Red started just 1 of 11 and Cornell found itself down 27-8 with just less than 8 minutes to go in the first half. Cornell then went to a trapping defense that had some success in forcing Wisconsin turnovers and picking up the pace of the game as the Big Red cut it to 27-14.
But the pressing defense also left Wisconsin shooters open, and the Badgers hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions. A Sam Dekker steal and dunk on the breakaway pushed the lead to 38-16, and Wisconsin largely cruised from there.
It was a struggle offensively most of the night for Cornell, which ended up shooting just 26 percent for the game and was outrebounded 54-31.
It also could have been worse for the Big Red, but Wisconsin was uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball, committing 16 turnovers.
It was only the second meeting between the two schools, the first an 87-69 Cornell win in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
• Wisconsin improved to 2-1 with the 73-40 win.
• The Badgers improved to 111-28 (.799) in non-conference games under Ryan, including an 84-6 (.933) mark at the Kohl Center.
• After Cornell scored the game’s first basket, the Badgers held the Big Red scoreless over the next 7:28 while going on a 14-0 run. Cornell missed 10 consecutive shots during the Badgers’ surge.
• The Badgers’ 54 rebounds were the most by a UW team in Bo Ryan’s 12 seasons as head coach. Wisconsin’s 54-31 (+23) edge in rebounding was the Badgers’ largest rebounding margin since out-rebounding Prairie View A&M by 35 boards (51-16) on Nov. 14, 2010 and ties as the fourth-largest rebounding advantage in the Ryan era. The performance marked the 16th time under Ryan that UW has pulled down at least 20 more rebounds than its opponent.
• The Badgers’ 18 offensive rebounds were the most since finishing with 24 offensive board vs. Prairie View A&M on Nov. 14, 2010.
• Wisconsin finished with nine blocks, the Badgers’ highest total since blocking nine shots vs. Penn State on Jan. 24, 2010.
• Wisconsin finished with 16 turnovers, snapping a run of 69 consecutive games with 13 or fewer turnovers. It was UW’s most turnovers since committing 18 in an 88-84 overtime loss at Green Bay on Dec. 9, 2009.
• The Badgers had 18 assists on their 27 made field goals, their highest assists total since posting 18 in a 77-31 win over UMKC on Nov. 20, 2011.
• Wisconsin finished with 10 steals, its most since swiping 10 in a 66-43 win over Bradley on Nov. 25, 2011.
• UW held Cornell to 26.2 percent shooting, the lowest shooting percentage by a Badgers opponent since Minnesota shot 23.9 percent in a 52-45 UW win on Feb. 28, 2012.
• Cornell’s 13.3-percent shooting performance from 3-point range was the lowest by a Badgers opponent since Savannah State went 0-for-3 (.000) from 3-point range on Dec. 15, 2011.
• The Big Red’s 16 points in the second half was the lowest total allowed by UW in a half since holding Nebraska to 14 points in the second half of a 64-40 win over the Huskers on Dec. 27, 2011.

The #22 Badgers bounced back from their tough road loss, and improved to 2-1 on the season after beating the Cornell Big Red 73-40. After an embarrassing performance on Wednesday's lost to Florida- in which the Gators shot 62% from the field- the Wisconsin defense was suffocating tonight, allowing Cornell to shoot just 26%.

It wasn't all defense though. Thanks to a threesome of great performances from Ben Brust, Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans, the Badgers put up 73 points, including 42 in the first half. The Badgers shot a solid 40.3% from the field in the game. Their three-point shooting also struggled a bit, only getting 6 out of 22 to fall for 27.3%. That needs to change quickly with the amount of threes they're taking.

Brust recorded his second double-double of the season, scoring a game high 18 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists. He also made 2 three pointers and had only 1 turnover. Brust has been a man on a mission on the boards recently, and Jared Berggren jokingly said this about Brusts' rebounding: "I'm just sick of it, cause he's stealing all of my stats".

Berggren also had 18 points, also adding 7 rebounds. The "Ice Berg" showed us an array of moves and ways to score in the paint, showing that he can be a solid offensive option down low. Berg continued his defensive dominance, swatting away 4 shots today.

Ryan Evans recorded his third career double double, scoring 12 points on 5-12 shooting and grabbing 10 boards. Evans also had a big day on the offensive end, recording three blocks, all in the first half.

The Badger big man duo of Evans and Berggren combined for 30 points, 17 rebounds, and 7 blocks tonight.

The Badgers host the 0-3 Presbyterian Blue Hose in their next game, Tuesday at Kohl Center, 7 PM CT.

MADISON -- Prior to Sunday, Wisconsin and Cornell had met just once. That match-up came in the second round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, where the 12th-seeded Big Red's lights-out shooting forced the Badgers' early tourney exit.

Sunday night at the Kohl Center, Wisconsin (2-1) returned the favor some two years later with a 73-40 win over Cornell (1-3). Ben Brust and Jared Berggren led all scorers with 18 points apiece, while Brust (with 12 rebounds) and Ryan Evans (with 12 points and 10 rebounds) both added a double-double. All together, the Badgers shot 40.9 percent (27-of-66) from the field.

The win put Wisconsin back on the winning track after it fell on the road vs. No. 10 Florida on Wednesday. Sunday's game was also the first of two on-campus contests the Badgers will have in the 2012 Las Vegas Invitational. Wisconsin will play Presbyterian on Tuesday in Madison, Creighton on Friday in Vegas, and then either Arkansas or Arizona State again in Vegas on Saturday.

"You'd have to tell me that we lost at Florida," head coach Bo Ryan said. "We didn't practice with the idea that, Hey, we lost this last game, we've got to now come out here and play. It was never even discussed other than the clips of showing movement, teaching points."

After Cornell scored the game's first basket, Wisconsin built a 14-0 run over the next seven minutes. The Badgers were aggressive with their on-ball defense, forcing the Big Red into 18 turnovers, including 10 in the first half. Cornell shot just 27.1 percent (16-of-59) from the field and did not score 40 points until 4:10 remained in the game.
"I thought we did some good things defensively," Ryan said. "Because Cornell can penetrate, they can do some things with the ball. We saw them against some pretty quick teams. They have a couple of guys that make counter-moves as good as anybody we'll see that we'll play.

"What we did do a good job of was chesting up and not leaving our feet and not getting ourselves out of position. And that accounts for the shooting percentage of Cornell. I thought we stuck to our rules, defensively, a little bit better.

Wisconsin's greatest highlight came with about 3 ½ minutes remaining in the first half. Freshman forward Sam Dekker jumped a Cornell passing lane at the top of the key and on a breakaway with only one defender trailing slightly behind him, slammed home a tomahawk dunk on the other end. A not-quite-capacity Kohl Center crowd of 16,657 erupted as Dekker once again delivered in his promising young career.

"It was a bad pass by the guy and I got in the passing line," Dekker said. "It's just something I usually do all the time. I'm athletic enough to throw some dunks down, so it was a lot of energy after that. It was a little exciting, we got a timeout. It was a cool play."

Ryan also earned his first technical foul of the season at the 4:14 mark after jawing at the referees from the sideline.

On a positive note, Mike Bruesewitz made his return to the starting lineup in the place of Frank Kaminsky. Bruesewitz scored four points and grabbed five rebounds in 25 minutes on the floor, the longest he's played this season after a gruesome incident in practice left him with a severe laceration in his leg.

"Guys like that have the right to get [their starting spot] back very soon," Ryan said. "He's put himself in position to do that. He knows he'll be sitting and watching at times, he knows he'll be playing at times. Whether or not guys like that start, that's never affected them. He's a team player. But I like him out there on the court, though. I like what he brings, needless to say."

Of the 13 Wisconsin players that took the court, seven scored. Berggren, Brust and Evans were the only Badgers to score in double-digits. Evans, especially, did a solid job of rebounding from a first half in which he scored just two points.

"Ryan is treated the same way as every other player," Ryan said. "Sometimes, maybe when you're on the bench and looking, you see some things a little bit better. You see guys crashing, you see swim moves or bull rushes or whatever that a guy might be using. Or, you might be a little tired. So a guy comes out of the game, he gets some rest, he comes back in. But we do that with everybody."

For Cornell, Devin Cherry's 13 points made him the only Big Red player to reach double-digits.

After a humbling loss to Florida Wednesday night, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan did everything he could to forget about the troubling defensive lapses in the blowout loss to the Gators.

In a 73-40 Badger victory over Cornell (1-3) at the Kohl Center Sunday night, Ryan may not be as quick to suppress his memories as three UW (2-1) players — Jared Berggren, Ben Brust and Ryan Evans — finished in double figures.

“We didn’t practice with the idea that, ‘Hey, we lost this last game, we got to now come out here and play,’” Ryan said. “It was never even discussed other than the clips of showing movement, teaching points. This was the next 40 minutes, 35 of it, 34 of it was pretty good.”

Forward Jared Berggren and shooting guard Ben Brust set the pace with 18 points apiece as the Badgers grabbed a commanding lead early and never lost control. While the Big Red would notch the first basket of the game, a 14-0 Wisconsin run kept Cornell scoreless for over seven minutes.

Cornell head coach Bill Courtney pointed to three-consecutive three-pointers from redshirt guard George Marshall, Berggren and freshman standout Sam Dekker as the stretch that suppressed any chance of a Big Red comeback. And a Dekker steal and powerful one-handed dunk on the other end of the hardwood following that streak essentially put Cornell’s chances at the upset to rest.

Though the offensive certainly contributed to the breakaway lead, Wisconsin’s nine blocks Sunday kept Cornell from developing any offensive rhythm.

“I was even probably a little surprised as our players were at their size and how well they defended,” Courtney said. “Just a heck of a defensive ball club that doesn’t allow you to get anything around the basket.”

The only previous meeting between Cornell and Wisconsin, the 87-69 thrashing by the Big Red in the second round of the 2010 NCAA tournament — when the Ivy League squad finished with an unreal 61.9 percent shooting percentage from the floor and 53.3 percent from three-point range — experienced a complete reversal Sunday night. The Big Red shot just 26 percent from the floor and a debilitating 13 percent from three-point land.

While Brust may have stolen the show as he sprayed the stat sheet with 12 rebounds and four assists to complement his 18 points — his second double-double of the year — Berggren showed a renewed aggressiveness attacking the basket. The fifth-year senior big man proved a defensive force with four of Wisconsin’s blocks, three of them coming in the first 20 minutes.

Eluding the Badgers’ go-to player inside the paint was his first career double-double, an achievement he has failed to notch through 87 career games.

“That’s one thing I’ve been looking at every game, like alright, I’m going to get a double-double tonight and I haven’t been able to do it yet,” Berggren said with a laugh. “Benny’s cleaned things up, so I got to make it happen here sooner or later. You got to quit stealing my rebounds here.”

Heading into the locker room with a comforting 18-point cushion, Berggren earned some rest in the second half and scored only two points in the second half. But his effortless slams and dump-ins around the hoop were replaced by Brust’s ability to create space in the lane, an aggressiveness that fueled the junior guard’s 11-point second half.

Adding to a less productive but sufficient offensive effort in the second half was fifth-year senior forward Ryan Evans. Despite proving his own defensive mettle with two blocks on as many Cornell possessions early on, the forward’s pull-up jumpers were well off the mark as he went into the break 1-for-4 from the field.

But Evans set the tone when he scored Wisconsin’s first four points of the second half. The squad’s top returning rebounder from the 2011-12 campaign refueled after the intermission with a 10-point, seven-rebound effort that helped the Badgers run away with the belated rematch against the Big Red.

“It was good to see him get his confidence up, knock down a couple shots, finish and then get some boards,” Brust said of Evans. “It’s definitely something positive moving forward because we got a long week ahead of us.”

After taking advantage of Cornell’s sluggish start, the Badgers’ may not have needed much offensive aid but they may have found themselves in trouble had the game not been all but decided early. Wisconsin sunk just one of its 13 three-point attempts in the second half and its field goal percentage dropped to 31.4 percent after sinking 50 percent of its shots in the first half.

The reassuring defensive effort allowed only one Big Red player — 6-foot-7 forward Peter McMillan off the bench, who finished with 13 points — to reach double figures. Tellingly, Cornell’s entire starting five combined to match the total output of its leading scorer.

“If you’re going to take a snapshot, I thought we did some good things defensively,” Ryan said. “Cornell can penetrate, they can do some things with the ball. … They have a couple guys that make counter-moves as good as we’ll see [this season].”

Looking to rebound from a poor effort at Florida, No. 20/22 Wisconsin (2-1) responded Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center with a 73-40 victory over Cornell (1-3) in the first of two regional round games in the Las Vegas Invitational.

Just a few days removed from finding themselves down 9-0 minutes into the game against the Gators, the Badgers avoided a similar deficit against the Big Red. After allowing a Cornell basket on the opening possession, UW responded with a 14-0 run over the next 7:27 minutes that effectively ended any chance of a second straight defeat.

Facing questions about their depth in the face of the season-ending knee injury to projected starting point guard Josh Gasser, the Badgers had arguably their most balanced effort in the past two years as three players reached double figures and a full six players had at least six points.

Not one but two Badgers finished the evening with a double-double. Junior guard Ben Brust was the first to reach that mark, finishing with a team-high (along with senior forward Jared Berggren) 18 points and 12 rebounds on 6-of-13 shooting.

“He has a nose for the ball,” head coach Bo Ryan said of Brust. “He is just a gamer. He goes all-out.”

Senior forward Ryan Evans had his third career double-double, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds despite a shaky first half effort that resulted in just two points and three rebounds and only 11 minutes of court time.

“He is definitely capable,” Brust said. “It was good to see him get his confidence up. Knock down some shots, finish [around the basket] and pick up some boards.”

Wisconsin imposed its will on the outmatched Cornell team all night, forcing 18 turnovers and holding the Big Red to just 26 percent shooting.

“They are a heck of a defensive ball club,” Cornell head coach Bill Courtney said. “They don’t let you get anything near the basket.”

Freshman forward Sam Dekker once again provided a spark off the bench for UW. The Sheboygan, Wis., native finished with seven points and six rebounds, highlighted by a steal that resulted in a one-hand dunk right in front of the Grateful Red.

“I’ve just accepted my role more,” Dekker said. “And I am getting more comfortable coming off the bench.”

With three solid performances under his belt, Dekker seems comfortable enough to move along even at this early stage in his college career.

“The question you should be asking is whether I feel comfortable with him,” Ryan said. “He’s got things to learn... but its early.”

Though Sunday’s win was a much-needed bounce back for the Badgers, reoccurring issues remain on both ends of the floor. Wisconsin turned the ball over 16 times against Cornell while allowing a much smaller Big Red team to grab 11 offensive rebounds.

Those turnovers snapped a span of 69 consecutive games in which UW turned the ball over fewer than 14 teams and were the highest total since the Badgers turned it over 18 times in an overtime loss to UW-Green Bay in 2009.

“It’s a good thing that it happened early,” Brust said. “We have time to clean it up before we face some long athletic teams.”

But ahead of a difficult week of non-conference play, Sunday’s win was a positive improvement over the loss to Florida.

“This was the next 40 minutes,” Ryan said. “35 of it was pretty good but there were 5 or 6 minutes in there we think we can change.”

With another ranked opponent in Creighton waiting just a few days away, the Badgers have one more opportunity to improve when they take on Presbyterian Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Madison - The final tally on the Kohl Center scoreboard Sunday - Wisconsin 73, Cornell 40 - didn't provide the most telling and entertaining numbers of the young season.

Those are: UW guard Ben Brust 2, UW forward Jared Berggren 0.

With 18 points and 12 rebounds in the victory over Cornell, Brust recorded his second double-double in three games this season. He had none in 51 games over his first two seasons.

Berggren, who finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and four of UW's nine blocks Sunday, has zero double-doubles in 87 college games.

"That is one thing I've been looking at every game - I'm going to get a double-double," Berggren said, laughing. "I haven't been able to do it yet. Ben has cleaned things up."

Berggren, Brust and freshman Sam Dekker combined for 30 points and 14 rebounds in the first half when UW (2-1) built a 42-24 lead against a Cornell team coming off a 68-64 loss to Saint Peter's.

Berggren finished the half with 16 points, four rebounds and three blocks. Brust added seven points, three of his four assists and six rebounds. Dekker contributed all seven of his points, four of his six rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block in 13 first-half minutes.

Dekker, who played well overall in a loss Wednesday at Florida, acknowledged feeling more at ease with each game.

"I've just accepted my role," he said. "I'm getting used to coming off bench. I'm just trying to provide a spark, being aggressive."

No UW player was more aggressive in the first half than Brust, who struggled against Florida but who is second on UW in scoring at 12.7 points per game and leads the team in rebounds at 8.3 per game.

"I wish I had a good answer for you," said Brust, who noted his rebounding prowess comes despite being only 6-foot-1. "If I see the opportunity for an offensive rebound I'll go for it, as long as I can get back.

"And defensively I think I've got a good read on where the ball is going to hit the rim, timing and going after it and grabbing it."

Mike Bruesewitz got his first start of the season for UW, in place of Frank Kaminsky. He added four points, five rebounds and two assists in a season-high 25 minutes.

"He didn't lose his spot because he wasn't taking care of business," UW coach Bo Ryan said, alluding to the leg injury Bruesewitz suffered on Oct. 9. "He wasn't in the lineup because physically he couldn't be in the lineup.

"Guys like that have the right to get it back very soon, and he has put himself in position to do that."

Ryan Evans was pulled early in each half after mistakes and replaced by Dekker. However, he had a strong second half (10 points seven rebounds) and finished with a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds).

Cornell (1-2) held one lead, 2-0, just 19 seconds into the game. Five UW players scored during a 14-0 run and the Badgers eventually built the lead to 27-8.

"We made a mini-run in the first half," said Cornell coach Bill Courtney, whose team pulled within 27-14. "And they came back and hit 3 straight threes."

George Marshall (eight points) hit the first three-pointer to push the lead to 30-14. Berggren followed with a three-pointer, when Cornell's defense didn't close out quickly, to push the lead to 33-16.

Dekker hit a bomb from the corner to push the lead to 20 and then added a dunk after a steal for a 38-16 lead with 3:11 left in the half.

UW got sloppy with the ball at times, particularly when Cornell used half-court traps, and finished with 16 turnovers.

The number that stood out, however, was Brust's second double-double, two more than Berggren.

"I've got to make it happen sooner or later," Berggren said, laughing again. "I'm just sick of it because he is stealing all my stats."

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