December 31, 2009

Badgers cruise in Big Ten opener

MADISON - Jon Leuer tried swiping away a ball that was just rebounded by an Ohio State player early on in Thursday's game. Instead of creating a turnover, Wisconsin's leading scorer was whistled for his second foul.

At the time of Leuer's departure, UW was tied 7-7 with a transitioning Buckeye squad that is still trying to find itself after losing its star player Evan Turner to injury earlier this month.

What looked to be an opportune time for Ohio State to gain an edge over Wisconsin, turned into the exact opposite.

And that can be attributed to 13 quick Trevon Hughes points that helped the Badgers burst to a 21-5 run that helped seal an easy 65-43 win over the Buckeyes in the Big Ten season opener.

"We play as a team," Hughes, who finished with a game high 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting, said. "We know Jon is our big guy in the post but we've got some other big guys that can fill his shoes.

"That's what we did."

During that stretch, one that eventually saw the Badgers to a 28-12 lead with less than eight minutes to play in the opening half, Wisconsin was efficient on the offensive end and even better defensively.

The Buckeyes, who dropped to 10-3 on the season, never seemed comfortable offensively and were getting out-muscled and out played by a hungry Badger squad. By the end of the first half, OSU had seven turnovers that didn't help compliment any of their only eight field goals.

The Badgers forced Ohio State into committing seven turnovers and out worked them on the glass by a 16-10 margin.

"No easy lanes to the basket," Hughes said when asked what he liked about his team's defensive effort Thursday afternoon. "We had guys helping out a lot and that's what we've been working on all week in practice. Don't let David Lighty penetrate and kick to open shooters.

"We tried our best to keep them out of the lane."

And that mentality worked as OSU was only able to connect on 32.6 percent of its shots from the field and an even worse 30.8 percent clip from distance. Ohio State's scoring duo of Jon Diebler and Lighty only combined to hit 2-of-8 shots from distance.

The Badgers simply didn't allow either of those playmakers to get going, particularly the sharp shooting Diebler.

"Anytime a guy like Diebler in a state as populated as Ohio, to be the leading scorer in high school, the guy can shoot it," UW head coach Bo Ryan, whose team's have never lost a Big Ten home opener, said. "We tried to keep some heat on him and not let him get comfortable."

The Badgers effectively took Ohio State out of their rhythm early in the game and never let them back. The only gleaming moment for the Buckeyes was a late run in the first half that cut UW's lead to seven, but that was all the closer they would get.

When Leuer returned to start the second half, his quick 11 points helped the Badgers expand upon their nine-point edge with a quick 16-5 run during the first seven minutes of the frame.

"I was a little bit disappointed," OSU head coach Thad Matta said after the loss. "We didn't come back at them there like the way we needed to. The one thing I keep saying about watching Wisconsin play is that they are a great basketball team. They're going to make you pay and they're a team that makes it hard to string a run together against them."

Notes from the game:

-With the win over No. 15 Ohio State, UW is now 3-0 against ranked opponents this season. It was also Wisconsin's eight straight win over Ohio State at the Kohl Center.

-The Badgers have now won seven consecutive conference openers, good for the longest active streak in the Big Ten.

-UW's 50 percent shooting display in the first half was the eighth time the Badgers shot that well in the opening half of a game this season.

-Wisconsin has now held an opponent below the 50-point mark in six of their 13 games this season. That includes four games in which UW has held its opponents to 43 points or fewer this season.

-Hughes' seven-rebound effort set a new career high in the category.

-Jordan Taylor finished with 12 points, marking his seventh career game in double figures, and his third straight.

-Leuer finished with 11 points after not scoring in the first half. That marks the 10th-staight game Leuer finished in double figures.

-Jason Bohannon finished with eight points, but also tallied a career-high three steals.

Quotes from the post-game presser:

-Matta on Leuer and Hughes' progression:

"It seems like every year they have somebody that kind of raises (their game). I think Hughes has kind of shown, throughout his career here, that he's had moments of greatness. Leuer, just watching him in the films from last year, you could see that he was going to be a pretty good player. He hit some pretty difficult shots against us in the games last year. He's got such a support around him. When you're bringing Taylor off the bench, he's a heck of a guard as well. I think Hughes is as good as any that I've seen in the Big Ten at the point guard position."

-Ryan on Hughes' assertiveness:

"Well he took advantage of his opportunities, that's for sure. You got to be ready for that. Opportunistic still describes the way we try to play. The fact that he doesn't have to do something to make our possessions go, that doesn't hurt. The fact that he's getting help at the guard position, help from bigs in completely plays and being on the receiving end…He's done some good things on dribble-drives. We kind of got bogged down offensively and he drives the lane and pitches to J-Bo for the three. He drove and drew the help and kicked to the open man and we knocked the three down."

-Hughes on his plans for New Year's Eve:

"Get to bed at least before 12:30. I'll be up for the New Year's but we got to lift at eight in the morning. That's a Bo way of keeping us out of trouble. That's his philosophy of having his guys do the right thing all the time. Oh yeah, and we're going to Perkins."

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