first_imgBRYAN FAUST/Herald photoWith the Big Ten leader in scoring making a trip to the Kohl Center, it was only fitting that the Wisconsin men’s basketball team would limit the Northwestern star to six points below his average.NU senior forward Vedran Vukusic, who was averaging 21.8 points a game entering Saturday’s contest, was held to just 15 points in the Badgers’ 68-52 romp over the Wildcats.Vukusic usually accounts for more than a third of his team’s points, but the long list of Badgers who guarded him made sure his numbers stayed relatively low.The only number that was high for the Wildcats was the 19 turnovers they committed throughout the game.”I think that’s probably the most turnovers we’ve had all year,” Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said. “We average about 11 turnovers a game. You get 19 turnovers against a team that picks you up at the top of the key — they’re not pressing you, they’re not really over-playing you, they’re just a fundamentally sound team. You have to play well to beat them and we did not, and they had a lot to do with that.”Part of Wisconsin’s success in handling Northwestern could be attributed to the patience the Badgers showed on the court.Wisconsin started the game by losing the tip-off, then turning the ball back over to Northwestern. The Badgers then went 1-4 in shooting and committed another turnover before sophomore forward Brian Butch made a lay-up to equalize the game at 5-5.The Cats would never lead again in the contest.”For us, the ball went in the basket and they were struggling,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “We knocked some shots down and we were a little more patient. Sometimes we have to remember that it doesn’t have to happen in five seconds. It can happen in 18 seconds in a possession.”I thought once we gained some composure and had some ball reversals and got the ball in the post … we respected the game a lot better. When you respect the game, it tends to reward you.”Patience also paid off for junior forward Alando Tucker, who missed his first three shots.Tucker went on to score 20 points and add four steals, a career high.Toward the end of the first half, Wisconsin went on a 16-5 run to bring its lead to 14 with 10 seconds remaining. In that run, senior guard Ray Nixon nailed two 3-pointers. Nixon would add another trey in the second half to bring his game day scoring total to 13.”We just tried to be patient,” Nixon said about the first half, “[but] I just tried to contribute as much as I could. I just tried to find the open spots and hoped my teammates would find me.”In the second half, Northwestern seemed to have started to throw in the towel. Vukusic, who saw more than 19 minutes of continuous play in the first half, found some more bench time in the second half. Northwestern guard Craig Moore, who also saw almost 20 minutes of play in the first half, joined Vukusic on the bench for much of the second half. The two combined to score a total of 29 points and six rebounds.”They are just better than we are,” Carmody said. “I just thought they had a cold start. Their defense is good … and they make it hard to score around the basket. It’s a very solid defensive team.””Smalls” step up: With the Wildcats’ starting five averaging just below the 6-foot-6 mark, the Badgers were forced to use a smaller lineup. Butch and Greg Stiemsma only saw a combined 32 minutes of play.Sophomore guard Michael Flowers and junior guard Kammron Taylor both teamed up for 52 minutes of play. Freshman Joe Krabbenhoft, also known as “Special K,” saw more minutes than usual with 22 in the contest.Taylor scored 14 points in the game, Flowers had three assists and Krabbenhoft had six rebounds to help the team.”I can’t say enough about what our small lineup did,” Ryan said. “I think we got [Northwestern] into taking some shots that they didn’t want to — not that they can’t make them, but today they didn’t, which makes our defense look better. “But the smalls did a great job and the bigs understood. They know what’s going on, and the bigs did a great cheerleading job those last five, six, seven minutes.”last_img

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