MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Badgers' men's basketball season got off to an unofficial start Saturday, as the Badgers defeated the UW-Stevens Point Pointers 80-54 at the Kohl Center.
For the Badgers, the game was a way to see how the team would respond to losing most of their starting frontcourt from last year. Forward Ryan Evans played very consistently, and lead the way for the Badgers with 16 points and five rebounds. Center Jared Berggren recorded 12 points of his own, and grabbed five rebounds as well. Head coach Bo Ryan was pleased with how his new frontcourt played in the exhibition, but mentioned that there are still things for them to work on.
"They're getting there," Ryan said. "Again, defensively there are things that you have to play. I've said it before - we'll get it out of the way early. We need to get more repetitions, and that's what the non-conference and exhibition games are for."
Senior point guard Jordan Taylor was pleased, but not surprised about his teammates stepping up in their new roles.
"I didn't notice anything that I haven't known for a while," Taylor said. I've been with them for years, and it's just them stepping into new roles, and they know what they're capable of. They're both really good players, and they're getting a chance to show it now."
The Badgers also got a nice game out of Ben Brust. The sophomore guard recorded 14 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes of play, and looked like a legitimate scoring option for the Badgers' opponents to account for.
Taylor had just eight points, but notched seven assists, and Stevens Point head coach Bob Semling thought Taylor could have scored more often if he wanted to.
"[Taylor] really wanted to try to help his teammates first," Semling said. "If he wanted to score he could have scored. I think he really was trying to involve and distribute the ball. He was so good coming off of high ball screens, and driving it and kicking it to shooters, so he was a facilitator, and that's the beautiful thing about the game. He can play any role."
The game was dotted with turnovers as well, but as usual, the Badgers came away with the edge. Stevens Point had 18 turnovers to Wisconsin's five. When asked about the turnover margin in the game, Ryan said his team came away with the edge because "We're Wisconsin. We don't accept anything else."
The Badgers will officially tip off their season next Saturday against Kennesaw Sate at the Kohl Center at 12:00 PM CST.