November 16, 2010

Cruising past North Dakota

MADISON - Two games into the regular season and Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan has showcased two different starting lineups.

Not that it matters.

For the second time in three nights the UW men's basketball team dominated an inferior opponent inside the Kohl Center. This time, the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota came up on the short end of an 85-53 margin.

"I thought Wisconsin did what they normally do to most opponents in this building," North Dakota head coach Brian Jones said. "They were very efficient on the offensive end, got to the foul line and got second shots. Through all the years that I've played or coached against coach Ryan and his staff they've always done that consistently, which is a mark of a good program.

"They get to the foul line and they don't turn it over."

The Badgers out-rebounded North Dakota 31-20, out-assisted them 20-5 and forced the Sioux into committing 16 turnovers. UW started the game with a 15-5 run and never looked back, even when Jordan Taylor was whistled for his second personal foul midway though the first half.

"We still got good shot selection going for us and guys didn't try to force things," Ryan said. "I thought they did a good job of keeping us within what we try to do offensively by getting good shots. Anytime you take care of the ball and you're getting into the right places that's always welcome."

Jon Leuer led all scorers with 22 points. The senior forward also chipped in six rebounds and a career high seven assists, which helped his teammates shoot a blistering 62 percent from the floor.

Fellow senior Keaton Nankivil scored 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor.

"A lot of it has to do with how well Jon was reading that double team," Nankivil, who also had two rebounds, one assist, one block and one steal, said. "Right out of the gates I think they decided they were going to double the post and Jon did a great job of finding everybody. We ended up with 20 assists so they're coming off of catch and shoots. They're pretty standard shots.

"It's more of looking for the open shot and hopefully knocking them down."

During Sunday night's season opener Ryan started the game with Taylor, Wquinton Smith, Jarmusz, Leuer and Nankivil. Tuesday night he traded Smith and Jarmusz for Josh Gasser and Mike Bruesewitz.

Those two players finished with a combined 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

"It's early," Ryan said of his shuffled lineup. "We've got some things to find out. We had some guys nicked up and some guys at class. When you play on a Sunday, if they don't practice on Monday and we play on Tuesday, class comes first. Jarmusz was in a situation where if he's not getting the reps with a one day turnaround he can see a little bit from the bench and get in there and take care of business."

And Jarmusz did just that.

The senior forward scored 10 points, one shy of his career high, and didn't miss any of his four shots. Ryan Evans also came off the bench and chipped in 11 points and collected six rebounds on 3-of-6 shots.

But for the second consecutive game, the story was about Leuer. He outshined anybody else on the floor yet again.

"He's obviously very talented," Jones said. "We wanted to limit their looks at the basket. With his length, we were going to take our chances. He's definitely got a lot of skill to his game, whether it's putting it on the deck or shooting in the post."

The Badgers have Wednesday off before they start preparing for a weekend trip to the desert oasis of Las Vegas for a tilt against UNLV Saturday evening.

Game notes:

-Wisconsin shot 62 percent from the field, marking its highest output since connecting on 62.3 percent against Southern in November of 2006.

-For the second consecutive game, UW has dished at least 20 assists. The last time the Badgers had back-to-back 20-assist games was against Florida A&M and Colorado in 2007.

-With his 22-point effort, senior Jon Leuer has now recorded four consecutive 20-point games.

-Freshman Josh Gasser made his first career start for UW Tuesday night. He finished with seven points, six rebounds and four steals in 25 minutes of game action. He is the first UW true freshman to start during his first year since Alando Tucker started 27 games during the 2002-03 season. He is also just one of three freshmen to start under Ryan during his tenure. Tucker and Devin Harris, who started every game his freshman season, were the other two.

-Mike Bruesewitz also started his first career game. He finished with six points and two rebounds in 18 minutes of play.

-Ryan Evans matched his career high with 11 points Tuesday night.

-Milwaukee native Troy Huff, who mother Theresa Huff is a member of UW's Athletic Hall of Fame for her career as a women's basketball player, led the Sioux with 21 points.

Quotable:

When asked if it will be nice to go back to Las Vegas after spending time with Team U.S.A. there over the summer, senior Jon Leuer didn't take long to respond.

"I don't think we're going to stay at the Wynn where I stayed at. We were in a 36th floor penthouse and all that, but we don't have to talk about that. But yeah, I have a little bit of experience playing at the Thomas and Mack Center, for whatever that's worth. Yeah, I'm looking forward to going back there with our group of guys and hopefully we can come out with a road win."

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