MINNEAPOLIS — You can’t win if you don’t score.
It might be a clich?, but itMs a good, if simple description of what happened as the No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers lost 68-52 Thursday night to Minnesota at Williams Arena.
Over a nearly eight-minute stretch in the second half, the Badgers were held without a field goal from the 9:40 mark until there was only 1:51 remaining in the game.
When asked about his team’s poor shooting night, senior guard Jason Bohannon credited the Minnesota defense, but added Wisconsin did not play as well as it could.
“Minnesota did a good job tonight,” Bohannon said. “They played good defense… we just didn’t execute. You’ve got to give them credit, but a lot of it’s on us as well. We didn’t do the things necessary to come out with a victory tonight.”
Typically, Wisconsin is the team that shuts opposing offenses down for long periods of games. Through 25 games, Wisconsin has held opponents without a field goal for five minutes or longer 13 times.
At “The Barn” though, the Minnesota defense, which switched between man-to-man and zone throughout the game — proved too tough to handle.
UW shot just 30.5 percent on the night, while hitting just 5-of-19 from beyond the arc in the second half. Much like they did in their home loss to Illinois, the Badgers did not hit nearly enough from outside to come away with the victory.
After shooting better than 50 percent in the first half hitting 6-of-11 threes, Wisconsin went cold in the second half, which led to a final total of 11-for-30, or 36.7 percent, from beyond the arc. UW head coach Bo Ryan was not unhappy with his team’s shot selection, though.
“I’d love to have those shots — 90 percent of them,” Ryan said. “I thought we had some pretty good looks… I can’t say, ‘boy, that was a terrible shot.’ And again, we scored 33 points from the 3-point line in 30 shots — so that wasn’t the problem.”
According to senior guard Trevon Hughes, the problem may have been the way the team practiced. Despite the rivalry that persists between the Badgers and Gophers, the native of Queens, N.Y. said Wisconsin had a “crappy week” in practice.
Who did Hughes blame for the lackadaisical nature of practice? Himself.
“It was all my fault,” he said. “I was being a goofball in practice all week.”
Hughes’ self-blame following the loss was much like the reaction he had following the Badgers’ tough loss at Purdue.
After the 6-foot guard missed a runner in the final seconds, he guaranteed things would be different if a similar situation arose in the future.
“I didn’t come out with it,” Hughes said after that game. “But I promise you next time we’re in that predicament, I will.”
So what about the Badgers’ current issues? The senior guard and co-captain had a similar guarantee regarding his lack of focus during the week leading up to Thursday night’s loss.
“That’s unacceptable; I’m going to step up my leadership,” Hughes said. “I wasn’t being a leader; I was just thinking everything was a joke. I was turning the ball over in practice, and it showed up in the game. I’ve just got to be more aggressive and be a better leader.”
Leuer off the mark in return from wrist injury
He didn’t start, but it took less than three minutes for Ryan to send junior forward Jon Leuer in for his first game action in nearly six weeks.
Leuer, a Minnesota native, entered to a mostly warm reception from the crowd of 14,625. In the end, however, Leuer’s much-anticipated return was not the kind of offensive — or defensive — catalyst many had hoped it would be.
Wisconsin’s 6-foot-10 forward shot just 2-for-12 in the game, including 0-of-2 from beyond the arc, and he did not make a single trip to the charity stripe. Leuer finished with four points.
Defensively, the Badgers were no better with Leuer than without him, and the Gophers absolutely dominated the battle on the boards, grabbing 41 rebounds to just 28 for Wisconsin.
Overall, though, Ryan was not exactly disappointed by Leuer’s return.
“I though 20-25 minutes max was what he could get,” Ryan said. “He’ll find his mark. That wasn’t Jon’s fault or anything. … He’s still a good player; he still means a lot to us.”