Wisconsin breezes past Cornell 73-40

first_imgJunior guard Ben Brust showed a knack for the basketball Sunday night, recording 12 rebounds through aggressive play around the basket.[/media-credit]After a humbling loss to Florida Wednesday night, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan did everything he could to forget about the troubling defensive lapses in the blowout loss to the Gators.In a 73-40 Badger victory over Cornell (1-3) at the Kohl Center Sunday night, Ryan may not be as quick to suppress his memories as three UW (2-1) players – Jared Berggren, Ben Brust and Ryan Evans – finished in double figures.“We didn’t practice with the idea that, ‘Hey, we lost this last game, we got to now come out here and play,’” Ryan said. “It was never even discussed other than the clips of showing movement, teaching points. This was the next 40 minutes, 35 of it, 34 of it was pretty good.”Forward Jared Berggren and shooting guard Ben Brust set the pace with 18 points apiece as the Badgers grabbed a commanding lead early and never lost control. While the Big Red would notch the first basket of the game, a 14-0 Wisconsin run kept Cornell scoreless for over seven minutes.Cornell head coach Bill Courtney pointed to three-consecutive three-pointers from redshirt guard George Marshall, Berggren and freshman standout Sam Dekker as the stretch that suppressed any chance of a Big Red comeback. And a Dekker steal and powerful one-handed dunk on the other end of the hardwood following that streak essentially put Cornell’s chances at the upset to rest. Though the offensive certainly contributed to the breakaway lead, Wisconsin’s nine blocks Sunday kept Cornell from developing any offensive rhythm. “I was even probably a little surprised as our players were at their size and how well they defended,” Courtney said. “Just a heck of a defensive ball club that doesn’t allow you to get anything around the basket.”The only previous meeting between Cornell and Wisconsin, the 87-69 thrashing by the Big Red in the second round of the 2010 NCAA tournament – when the Ivy League squad finished with an unreal 61.9 percent shooting percentage from the floor and 53.3 percent from three-point range – experienced a complete reversal Sunday night. The Big Red shot just 26 percent from the floor and a debilitating 13 percent from three-point land.While Brust may have stolen the show as he sprayed the stat sheet with 12 rebounds and four assists to complement his 18 points – his second double-double of the year – Berggren showed a renewed aggressiveness attacking the basket. The fifth-year senior big man proved a defensive force with four of Wisconsin’s blocks, three of them coming in the first 20 minutes.Eluding the Badgers’ go-to player inside the paint was his first career double-double, an achievement he has failed to notch through 87 career games.“That’s one thing I’ve been looking at every game, like alright, I’m going to get a double-double tonight and I haven’t been able to do it yet,” Berggren said with a laugh. “Benny’s cleaned things up, so I got to make it happen here sooner or later. You got to quit stealing my rebounds here.”Heading into the locker room with a comforting 18-point cushion, Berggren earned some rest in the second half and scored only two points in the second half. But his effortless slams and dump-ins around the hoop were replaced by Brust’s ability to create space in the lane, an aggressiveness that fueled the junior guard’s 11-point second half.Adding to a less productive but sufficient offensive effort in the second half was fifth-year senior forward Ryan Evans. Despite proving his own defensive mettle with two blocks on as many Cornell possessions early on, the forward’s pull-up jumpers were well off the mark as he went into the break 1-for-4 from the field.But Evans set the tone when he scored Wisconsin’s first four points of the second half. The squad’s top returning rebounder from the 2011-12 campaign refueled after the intermission with a 10-point, seven-rebound effort that helped the Badgers run away with the belated rematch against the Big Red.“It was good to see him get his confidence up, knock down a couple shots, finish and then get some boards,” Brust said of Evans. “It’s definitely something positive moving forward because we got a long week ahead of us.”After taking advantage of Cornell’s sluggish start, the Badgers’ may not have needed much offensive aid but they may have found themselves in trouble had the game not been all but decided early. Wisconsin sunk just one of its 13 three-point attempts in the second half and its field goal percentage dropped to 31.4 percent after sinking 50 percent of its shots in the first half. The reassuring defensive effort allowed only one Big Red player – 6-foot-7 forward Peter McMillan off the bench, who finished with 13 points – to reach double figures. Tellingly, Cornell’s entire starting five combined to match the total output of its leading scorer. “If you’re going to take a snapshot, I thought we did some good things defensively,” Ryan said. “Cornell can penetrate, they can do some things with the ball. … They have a couple guys that make counter-moves as good as we’ll see [this season].”Follow Ian on Twitterlast_img

Leave a Comment