MADISON, Wis. - Savannah State's media guide listed the last game between the Tigers and the Badgers as a 679-32 blowout. While that was definitely a typo, the Badgers' win Thursday night wasn't any better for the Tigers. The Badgers (10-2, 0-0 Big Ten) defeated the Tigers (4-8, 1-1 MEAC) 66-33, and have just one game left in the non-conference schedule before they travel to Lincoln, Neb., to open up Big Ten play on Dec. 27. While the Badger offense was clicking from the start, Wisconsin's defense impressed Savannah State head coach Horace Broadnax.
"It doesn't look special, but at the end of the day they stay in position," Broadnax said. "They allow you to get jump shots but they contest them, so they don't put themselves out of position ... they don't gamble, they don't double, they don't hedge."
The Badgers held the Tigers their season-low in points this season, and have held seven of their 12 opponents to less than 45 points, and improved their nation-leading mark in scoring defense to 44.7 points per game.
"We try to force teams into tough shots, shots that they don't really want to take," sophomore guard Josh Gasser said. "I think just our team defensive principles have been working pretty well so far, so we're just looking to keep that going forward."
The Badger win was also spurred by a stellar shooting performance in, which saw the Badgers shoot 56.8% from the floor for the game. Savannah State was held to just 28% shooting from the floor in the first half, and the hole proved too large for the Tigers to overcome.
Badger forward Jared Berggren led all scorers with 13 points, and had four rebounds to his name as well. Berggren has emerged as a reliable points-scorer this season, having scored double digits in eight of the Badgers' 12 games.
"He's out there for a reason," Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. "He's getting better, he's learning. He's getting better as a player, and that's what we like to see."
As a whole every Badger starter ended up with double-digit points, except for Mike Bruesewitz, who ended the night with eight points.
The Badgers' size advantage proved key in the game, as they were able to outmuscle the Tigers, who don't have a player taller than 6-foot-8 on the roster. The Badgers ended up outrebounding the Tigers 28-24, after bringing down just 12 boards to Savannah State's 15 in the first half. Freshman forward Frank Kaminsky lead the Badgers with three blocks on the night as well.
Turnovers also proved fatal for the Tigers. Savannah State had 16 turnovers on the night, including 11 in the first half alone. The Badgers took advantage of the Tigers' mistakes, and got 24 points off of turnovers in all, compared to just four for the Tigers. Jordan Taylor had the most turnovers on the night for the Badgers, giving the ball away just twice.
Up next, the Badgers will host Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 23, in their last scheduled non-conference game of the season.
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