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November 14, 2010MADISON - For a while Prairie View A&M hung with Wisconsin during the Badgers season opener inside a somewhat subdued Kohl Center.
The key phrase there is for a while.
On the heels of Jon Leuer's 24-point effort, Josh Gasser's 21-point debut and Jordan Taylor's 20-point performance, Wisconsin cruised to an easy 99-55 win over the Panthers in its season opener.
"I think we got good looks most of the game," Taylor, who also chipped in six assists to counter his three turnovers, said. "I think shots started to fall more in the second half, but I think we played with a higher energy level, with more intensity, as well."
At one point in the second half, the Badgers saw what had been a comfortable double-digit margin shrink to seven points when Tim Meadows jumper stung the netting just two and a half minutes into the final period.
That was as close as Prairie View A&M would get.
Leuer, who hit 9-of-13 shots from the field, started a 29-7 run for the Badgers with a driving layup. It was the beginning of a decisive run that thwarted any confidence the Panthers had established with its effective, albeit streaky, shooting performance.
"We didn't work the ball around," Prairie View A&M head coach Byron Rimm, in reference to the run, said. "We talked about taking quick shots. A lot of our guys got kind of depressed, I should say, about some stuff that was going on in the game. And that kind of compounded a problem with another problem."
During that emphatic stretch, UW hit 10-of-12 shots, forced A&M into committing three turnovers and out-rebounded the Panthers by a hefty margin. By the end of the game, UW dominated the glass by a total of 51-16, including a 24-3 edge in offensive boards.
"We didn't rebound," Rimm said. "It's kind of hard for us to compete with 6-foot-10, 6-foot-10, 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-8 guys who were hustling. I really think that we got out-hustled today. Coach Bo Ryan did a good job of getting the guys to play hard. Everything that was flying out of bounds, they were jumping up to get it.
"Our guys were watching."
Leuer opened the game by hitting three consecutive bombs from downtown. But after that impressive start, it seemed the Badgers offense became a bit stagnant. Though Wisconsin held a 41-31 lead at the break it had only shot 37 percent from the field.
In the second half, though, it seemed as though UW collected itself and settled into its offense in a more fulfilling manner.
"We were a little anxious," Ryan, referring to his team's first half performance, said. "It is the first game of the year. It's a little different. You've got to play through some things. It was heads butting and tough-hard aggressive play. Some shots weren't going down and the other team was hitting some shots. It's still about that complete 40 minutes.
"Our shot selection was better in the second half because they had to come out and do some things differently. Give our guys some credit for recognizing that and making pretty good decisions."
When the final buzzer sounded, the Badgers had 99 points on the board and upped their shooting mark to 50 percent for the game. That's the highest scoring output from any UW men's team since 2008, when Wisconsin tallied 98 points in a win over Gardner-Webb.
Gasser, who made his Badger debut with a near double-double, finished with 21 points and nine rebounds (six offensive) and also scored the most points of any UW freshman in his debut since Rashard Griffith dropped 27 points in 1993.
Capping off a historic weekend of Badger sports, it only made sense for the UW hoops squad to outscore its brethren from the gridiron.
Even with that sounding as ridiculous as it does.
"We couldn't get shown up by those guys," Leuer said of the football team's 83-point performance against Indiana. "No, it was great to see them able to dominate like that, but we were just out there to get better. That was the main focus of tonight and I think we did that.
"That was our goal from day one, to just keep getting better. We don't focus on the numbers."
Odds and ends:
-Both Ben Brust and Duje Dukan logged minutes in Sunday's season opener, quelling any notion of a possible redshirt. They each finished with two points.
-Mike Bruesewitz scored a career-high 11 points, including the first three 3-point field goals of his career.
-Jared Berggren also notched a career high in Sunday's win. The sophomore center tallied seven points on 2-of-5 shooting.
-Rob Wilson did not play as he continues to nurse his hamstring strain.
-Senior walk-on Wquinton Smith recorded his first career start in Sunday's win. He finished with one point, five rebounds (all offensive), three assists and one turnover in 17 minutes of play. Before Smith, the last non-scholarship player to start a game for UW was Kevin Gullikson at Iowa in 2009. The last four-year non-scholarship player to start for the Badgers was David Burkemper. He started at Michigan in February of 1999.
-Senior Brett Valentyn scored a career-high six points stemming from two three-point shots in seven minutes of play.
-Taylor, Smith, Tim Jarmusz, Leuer and Keaton Nankivil started the season opener.