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December 15, 2011

Stifling defense guides UW to win

MADISON - Deric Rudolph, a free-shooting guard from Savannah State, once shot 16 3-point attempts in a single game this season. Against Wisconsin none of his three shot attempts went in.

He was held scoreless.

Joshua Montgomery, the Tigers top perimeter scorer, didn't score any points and didn't even take any shots. He was held to one rebound and a missed free throw.

It was just another defensive day in the office for the No. 14 Badgers, improving to 10-2 with a 66-33 pasting of an overmatched Savannah State squad Thursday night inside a suppressed, if not lifeless, Kohl Center.

"It don't look special," Savannah State head coach Horace Broadmax said regarding UW's defensive effort. "At the end of the day they stay in position and allow you to take jump shots, but they contest the jumpshot.

"They don't put themselves out of position."

Cedric Smith and Arnold Louis each scored eight points for the Tigers, which, not coincidentally, scored just 33 points on essentially 33 percent shooting.

Only starter Jyles Smith (2-of-3, four points) shot better than 50 percent from the field for Savannah State.

"I know our defense made them work to get a good shot," UW head coach Bo Ryan, who's team forced eight turnovers, said. "That's all you can ask. I thought we did a good job of taking away what they pose as their threats.

"Every game you're obviously trying to do that, but some teams have so many threats that it makes it hard to concentrate on two or three."

Wisconsin would probably qualify as one of those teams Ryan alluded to.

Four Badger players finished with double-digit scoring. Jared Berggren led the way for the second consecutive game, shooting 5-of-8 from the field and 2-of-2 from distance, to score a game-high 13 points.

"I guess the last two games I've shot the ball pretty well," Berggren, shooting 65 percent from the field during that time frame, said. "There were a couple of moves in the post that were a little questionable, but overall I guess I was hitting some shots.

"I've felt pretty good the last two games."

UW's versatile big man scored six of his 13 points during a game-opening 16-4 run that essentially salted away any hopes Savannah State might have had to at least hang with the Badgers for a while.

Wisconsin, having played a nailbiting and physical game at Milwaukee just two nights ago, sensed an opportunity to step on the Tigers throat and did exactly that.

"No matter the circumstances we have to try to come out with energy," UW senior Jordan Taylor, who scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, said. "It doesn't matter. You've got to find a way to do it.

"We came out sluggish in the second half which was kind of disappointing, but we got it going there a little bit toward the end."

Ryan Evans (12 points) and Josh Gasser (10) rounded out the double-digit scoring quartet Thursday night.

But the story of this game had everything to do with a team that held it's fourth opponent of this young season to 33 points or less.

"That's a pretty low number," Gasser said. "It's pretty good, I think. I didn't really know that. We don't really focus on the number standpoint. Sometimes we're going to force teams into tough shots and they're going to knock them down. Others, our defensive principles are going to overtake.

"I guess we don't really focus on that number, but at the same time I guess it's a pretty impressive stat we can hold our hats on."

Savannah State did make an 8-4 run early in the second half to chop Wisconsin's lead down to 15, but that was as close as the Tigers - - a team that has already played road games at Georgetown, Indiana, Butler and Wisconsin - - would get.

Nine Badgers scored Thursday night, including a bucket each from reserves Evan Anderson and Duje Dukan. It was simply that kind of night for a team that's next challenge comes on the academic side of things.

It's finals week.

"It's not like we're going to forget about basketball these next few days," Berggren said. "But we'll take an opportunity to get healthy with minor things here and there and get ready for the next one."

Team notes:

-By holding Savannah State to 14 points in the first half, Wisconsin has now limited six of its 12 opponents to 20 or less points in the first half. Wisconsin has also held 10 of its 12 opponents to their season-low point total.

-Defensively UW is allowing just 44.7 points per game, good for tops in the nation.

-In an ongoing streak, Wisconsin has now held 16-straight opponents to 65 points or fewer, the nation's longest such streak.

-By shooting just eight 3-point shots Thursday, Wisconsin attempted its fewest number of 3-pointers in a game since shooting seven in a 61-39 win at Milwaukee in 2007.

-Duje Dukan collected his first career steal and finished with two for the game, one of which led to a breakaway dunk during the final minute of the game.

-Anderson tied a career-high with two points. He also established a new career-high with three rebounds.

-Frank Kaminsky blocked three shots, a new career high.

Quotable:

Bo Ryan on the Milwaukee Bucks signing of Jon Leuer:

"He's chasing the dream. Life is pretty good when you can do that as a result of a ball bouncing and having t-shirts and a pair of shorts and sneakers. Look what you get. You get an opportunity to pursue a profession. These guys, they have a love for the game and they have some opportunities. Whether they all make teams or whether any of that happens, that's all you can ask for. A chance."

PHOTO GALLERY: Wiscosnin defeats Savannah State


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