It took a little while to warm up, but the No. 13 Wisconsin men’s basketball team dished out a 69-33 home victory over Wofford Saturday night with half of the team’s shots falling on target.
Sophomore guard Josh Gasser led all scorers with 16 points, hitting five of six shots from the field and all four attempts from beyond the arc. Gasser also added five rebounds and two assists.
Forwards Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans backed up the guard’s play with 13 points apiece, a career high for Berggren, who pitched in seven rebounds on the night while Evans chipped in six along with five assists. Both converted six of 12 shots from the field.
The Badgers (3-0) started the night off slow, scoring just 13 points after 10 minutes while the Terriers (1-2) came within three points after Karl Cochran hit a three-pointer just after the 10-minute mark.
Gasser then replied with a three-pointer of his own, beginning a 19-0 run that lasted until just before the break. Wisconsin missed its next four shots but went on to hit six of the following 10, with three-pointers coming from Rob Wilson (seven points) and Jordan Taylor (four points, four assists).
However, the real story of the run, which lasted over nine minutes, was Wisconsin’s defense. Berggren and Gasser combined for one block and two steals over that period while Evans swatted away three shots himself. Meanwhile, Wofford was limited to two offensive boards.
“I think [the run] started with defense, we got going on defense,” Evans said. “I dove for one, Jared dove for one, so that was huge defensively. And having a guy like Josh, being able to knock down shots, I think he gave me two assists on that run, so that makes it pretty easy for me.”
“And a guy like Jordan Taylor, someone who’s really just distributing right now, instilling confidence in all of us, I really commend him for that … He’s just playing real team ball right now.”
Wisconsin entered the locker room at halftime with a 32-12 lead from which Wofford would not recover. The Badgers shot 43.3 percent from the field in the first period and upped that clip to an even 50 percent when all was said and done. About 39 percent of Wisconsin’s tries from the perimeter had their desired effect as well.
The Terriers, meanwhile, shot 26.5 percent and 21.1 from the arc on the night, despite engineering good looks on offense and capping its turnover count at nine.
Ultimately, though, Wofford just couldn’t keep up with Wisconsin.
“I’ll tell you what this team does that turns you inside-out is they really shoot the basketball,” Wofford head coach Mike Young said. “Berggren, Bruesewitz; Evans stepped back there and made a three, and then Brust, and then on and on. That’s really, really hard.
“Credit to the Badgers, they were that much better tonight than we were.”
Leading the way for Terriers Saturday were guards Kevin Giltner and Cochran, who each scored 10 points on a combined 8-of-20 shooting.
Wofford was held to just 12 points in the paint and earned only nine shots from the free throw line – all of which came in the second half. Wisconsin also doubled up on Wofford in the rebound battle, winning 43-22.
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan came away impressed with the success his players had against Wofford’s inside game.
“I was pleased with about 85 percent of the defense on how we handled their screens and some of the looks they were trying to get with the post because they hurt a lot of teams inside; tall teams, short teams,” he said. “They had some pretty good action on their inside game and I thought Jared did an excellent job. Frank (Kaminsky), as a freshman, showed he was a freshman a couple times but that’s how you learn.”