MADISON, Wis. -- The Badgers scored the first 19 points in Sunday's opener against Southeastern Louisiana, and they didn't look back.
Wisconsin took the foot off the gas a bit in the second half to take home an 87-47 victory, but the Badgers dominated the Lions for 40 minutes, just as we've come to expect in games against low-major conference teams. The Badgers hit over 50 percent of their shots, held the Lions to under 35.2 percent shooting and absolutely dominated the glass.
The Badgers lost a lot of size with the departures of Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil prior to last season, but Wisconsin may have its biggest and toughest front line in years with this season's squad. The Badgers started two players listed at 6-foot-10 or above (Frank Kaminsky and Jared Berggren) and feature five rotation players listed at 6-foot-6 or taller (Ryan Evans, Sam Dekker, Mike Bruesewitz).
With this size as well as heavy activity from players like Ben Brust, Badgers controlled the glass, particularly on the offensive end. Wisconsin pulled in an astounding 19 offensive rebounds on 29 missed shots. Sunday's game marks the first time the Badgers have rebounded at least half of their missed shots since the season opener two seasons ago against Prairie View A&M. And they came from all over the court -- five from Brust, three from Berggren, two each from Evans, Kaminsky, Zak Showalter and Zach Bohannon and one each from Bruesewitz and Traevon Jackson.
Jared Berggren dominated the low block, pouring in 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting (7-of-7 from the line) to lead the Badgers. Brust had a stellar offensive game shooting as well as on the glass, scoring 14 on 5-of-8 from the field (2-of-2 on threes) to join Berggren as starters in double figures.
If anybody disappointed offensively, it was Ryan Evans, who needed nine field goal attempts and eight free throw attempts to score nine points, largely thanks to his brutal 1-of-8 showing from the free throw line. If he can fix his stroke -- and as he hit 72.6 percent of his free throws last year, he should -- things will look much better going forward.
The bench was fantastic, scoring 34 points on 12-of-21 shooting. Bruesewitz led bench scorers with 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting (two three-pointers) and Dekker added eight on 3-of-5 from the field.
According to my count, the Badgers and Lions used 59 possessions each, with Wisconsin scoring 1.47 points per possession and allowing 0.80. Those marks would rank first and 10th last year respectively. With Ken Pomeroy's projections forecasting a 68-45 victory for the Badgers in 56 possessions, Sunday's performance looks like a stellar one, particularly for a Badgers offense experiencing life without Jordan Taylor for the first time.