December 13, 2008

Badgers pull away from Green Bay in second half

MADISON, Wis. - What happened Saturday night against fellow state-school Green Bay is something that does not occur very often. In fact, it was a first in three plus years of play. UW senior Joe Krabbenhoft not only led the Badgers in scoring, but his 15-point performance set a career high as Wisconsin pulled away from the Phoenix for a comfortable 77-57 win.

"No wonder they had him over there to interview after the game with Big Ten Network," UW head coach Bo Ryan said in reference to Krabbenhoft. "I was wondering what Joe was doing there. He took advantage of some things, good dribble attacks also, let it come to him for the most part."

It was evident from the start that Krabbenhoft was looking to find his scoring touch as he finished 5-for-10 from the field and 5-for-5 from the line. He also chipped in five rebounds.

"He was strong with the ball," Ryan said. "That's how Joe can play. I'm not saying he would get 15 every night, but there are nights when it can happen. Because, evidently it did."

Krabbenhoft was joined by fellow senior Marcus Landry, who chipped in 14 points of his own, as UW utilized a quick 12-0 run at the end of the first and beginning of the second half to blow open what was a 31-30 battle.

"We came out and really got aggressive defensively," Landry, who saw his team force 11 Phoenix turnovers, said. "It was a plus for us because we were able to pull away in the game. It was a positive. It's one of the things we always say, to improve on defense."

The best defensive performance of the night, though, belonged to junior Jason Bohannon and the job he did shutting down Green Bay's leading scorer Troy Cotton. Entering the game, the Phoenix guard was averaging close to 15 points per game. Tonight, Bohannon held him to only five.

"As we knew, he was shooting the ball really well, especially from three," Bohannon, who finished with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists, said. "Chasing him around screens, we wanted to make him put it on the floor and shoot tough jump shots. But it wasn't any different than how we handle other shooters or anyone else on defense.

"We wanted him to shoot those tough two-point jump shots and it paid off in the end."

After a somewhat dismal performance against lowly Idaho State on Tuesday, the Badgers bounced back quickly. Four Wisconsin players scored in double-digits, including Tim Jarmusz's career high 11-point display. Sophomore Keaton Nankivil also had a major impact on the game after seeing only 10 minutes of action against ISU in the Badgers previous contest.

"It definitely needs to be more consistent," Nankivil said in regard to his game high 11 rebounds. "But it's something the coaches told me to work on and today the ball just happened to fall into my hands. It doesn't matter who gets the boards as long as we get them. Today they just kept coming off toward my part of the floor and I just tried to get it."

After Green Bay stuck with the Badgers for the majority of the first half, it fell apart after drawing within one point with under two minutes to play in the opening frame.

"When we were down 31-30, we made some mental mistakes defensively and gave up two three's to end the half, going down by seven at halftime, instead of maybe taking the lead for halftime," Green Bay head coach Tod Kowalczyk said. "Coming out of halftime, we didn't play particularly well to start the half, but came back and settled in.

"It was a five point game with about 10 or 11 minutes to play. We had some chances to go down three, we didn't make some plays and they went on a big run on us and we just didn't respond to it."

UW junior Trevon Hughes finished the game with only nine points, but made a huge impact on the game with his ability to drive the lane and dish the rock to open shooters. In all, he had four assists and six rebounds to go with his nine points, but he also drew key fouls on Phoenix players.

"Well you take advantage of whatever somebody's doing to you," Ryan said. "And they were pressuring the wings and pressuring the ball pretty hard, so you have to dribble release at times and attack gaps.

"Teams are going to play the ball a certain way, play away from the ball a certain way and take what is available. I thought our guys made some good decisions-Pop (Hughes) and J-Bo."

The Badgers will have a full week to rest up for its final two non-conference games against Coppin State one week from today and Texas three days after that before opening conference play at Michigan on New Year's Eve.

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