Badgers stomp N.C. State with 39-point win
MADISON, Wis. -- Apparently blowouts aren't just restricted to Camp Randall Stadium.
Just four days after the UW football team hit the 70-point plateau for the third time this season, the basketball team posted its own blowout Wednesday by blitzing North Carolina 87-48 as Bret Bielema sat courtside at the Kohl Center.
It was an impressive performance for a team that struggled to hit shots in last weekend's Old Spice Classic. Coming off a tough loss to Notre Dame in which the Badgers blew an 11-point lead with less than 10 minutes to go, Bo Ryan's team got hot early and never let up, going on a 23-0 run at one point that put the game away.
Scoring had been an issue so far this season, especially from behind the arc, but UW shot 50 percent overall Tuesday and hit 55 percent of their threes. Jon Leuer led the way with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Jordan Taylor added 21 points.
"It was a lot of the same looks," Ryan said about the shots his players made today compared to the ones they missed in Orlando. "You are going to shoot it well at home. You are going to shoot it well on the road. You just have to do it more consistently."
The Badgers held a 29-21 lead after North Carolina State guard Lorenzo Brownmade a layup with 6:36 left in the first half. Little did Wolfpack head coach Sidney Lowe know, but his team wouldn't score for the next 10 minutes, a stretch that must have felt like an hour with halftime lodged in the middle of the drought.
"I don't think we handled it well," Lowe said about his young team facing a more experienced group. "I don't think we handled it well at all."
Meanwhile, the Badgers didn't skip a beat, finishing off a 23-0 run with a Leuer jumper nearly three minutes into the second half. Scott Wood finally ended North Carolina State's drought by hitting a layup with 16:24 left in the game, but by then the score was 52-23 and the Badgers ready to let up.
From there, it was the Jared Berggren show. The sophomore hit 4-of-5 shots the rest of the way, including three threes and finished the night with 12 points. Mike Bruesewitzwent 3-of-3 from behind the arc, providing a spark UW lacked in its two losses.
Most importantly, the game never featured a long scoring drought from the Badgers, which had plagued them in most of their games so far this season.
"Players need to man up and make a play," Ryan said when asked how to avoid long scoring droughts. "Get fouled, get an offensive rebound, get a steal and a layup at the other end. It's all things that they know can happen in a positive way and that's what you have to make happen. We had all that happen tonight."
The win helped the Big Ten win its second straight ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the only two times that has happened. And if you are wondering if it matters to the players, just ask Jon Leuer. In the middle of answering a question in his postgame press conference, he looked up at the television and saw Purdue beat Virginia Tech to clinch the challenge for the Big Ten.
The senior forward interrupted himself and said: "We just won. Nice. Go Big Ten."