After two straight losses, the No. 16 Wisconsin men’s basketball team got back on track against in-state foe UW-Green Bay. The Badgers (7-2 overall) looked like a team on a mission and soundly defeated the Phoenix (4-5 overall, 2-0 Horizon), 70-42.
“We felt we wanted to come in here and definitely get a win. I think we were a little bit more focused,” junior forward Ryan Evans said.
After a rough afternoon against Marquette on Saturday, in which he had an uncharacteristic five turnovers, senior point guard Jordan Taylor returned to his preseason All-American form against the Phoenix, scoring a game-high fifteen points while dropping in ten assists for his first double-double of the year. In classic Taylor fashion, this was all accomplished without committing a single turnover.
“Ten assists, zero turnovers, there’s not too many guys in the country that have that,” head coach Bo Ryan said. “He saw the floor well. He would get an angle and guys would help to him and he’d find the open guy, and that’s being a good point guard.”
Also contributing to the Wisconsin victory were Evans and junior center Jared Berggren, who scored 14 and 13 points respectively, providing a much needed presence in the paint.
The Badgers bench was also a big contributor, with a total of ten different players combining for 21 total points.
“It’s always good to see when you have guys come off the bench. We know we have plenty of guys who can step in and give us some good minutes, and we were able to show it tonight,” Berggren said.
After Green Bay cut the Badgers’ lead to one at 12-11, Wisconsin was able to distance themselves from the Phoenix, going on a 14-1 run to take a 26-12 lead despite rotating subs off the bench early and often. Wisconsin was able to keep the lead at double digits and went into halftime up 33-21.
Wisconsin continued the shooting woes that plagued them in their first two losses, shooting only 36 percent from the field and making only two out of 11 from behind the arc in the first half.
Fortunately for the Badgers, they continued to play great defense, forcing the Phoenix to shoot under 30 percent and causing nine turnovers in the first half.
Wisconsin wasted no time taking control of the game in the second half, scoring eight straight points coming out of the break to boost their lead to 20 points. The Badgers continued to tack on from there and cruised to the victory.
The biggest reason for the Badgers’ success in the second half was their ability to finally start making consistent shots; the Badgers shot 58 percent from the field in the second half.
This was not the case for the Badgers’ three-point shooting, however, as they shot three out of 17 from behind the arc, continuing their recent long-distance shooting struggles. This lack of shooting could be seen as a silver lining, as the Badgers won a game while not shooting well from three.
Wisconsin will now look forward to their final game of the three-game home stand against UNLV.