February 18, 2010

UW thumped by Gophers in 'The Barn'

MINNEAPOLIS - Wisconsin was supposed have an added lift entering Thursday's game against hated Minnesota. With UW getting Jon Leuer back from his broken wrist and with the Gophers being losers of seven of their past 10 games, this had a Badger win written all over it.

Somebody forgot to write that in the script.

Behind 16 points from Blake Hoffarber and a dominating effort on both the offensive and defensive glass from a hungrier Gopher squad, Minnesota extended its current winning streak over UW to three with an emphatic 68-52 win inside a sold out Williams Arena.

With the loss, UW not only dropped its second of three games, but also essentially squashed any hopes of a Big Ten title.

"It's always tough to lose a game in the Big Ten," UW senior guard Jason Bohannon, who chipped in 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, said. "Especially when you're right in the heat of a title race. It's tough.

"Minnesota came ready to play and we just didn't finish the game tonight."

The Gophers finished the game by hitting 47.6 percent of their shots from the floor in comparison to UW's 30.5 percent clip. Minnesota also controlled the glass as the Gophers out boarded Wisconsin by a 41-28 margin.

It seemed every time the Badgers had a chance to make a run or cut into the lead, particularly in the second half, the ball would slip off a Badger fingertip or get lost on it's route to the net and miss.

One particular instance comes to mind. With momentum seemingly tilting in the Badgers favor with just less than nine minutes to play, Leuer (4 points on 2-of-12 shooting) hoisted a three that would have cut the Gopher lead to two points.

But unfortunately Leuer's shot set the tone for a stretch of play that effectively doomed the Badgers chances.

The shot clanked off the iron and fell into the arms of Mike Bruesewitz who promptly kicked it out to Jason Bohannon for an open look from distance. Bohannon, a player that has been red hot lately, missed his wide-open look.

Again, UW reeled in an offensive rebound only to see Tim Jarmusz's shot go by the wayside. When his shot ricocheted off the iron directly to Trevon Hughes, who finished with a game high 19 points, UW had a fourth shot to cut the lead to two with a made triple.

Instead Hughes' shot, like the three immediately prior to his, missed the mark and Minnesota finally collected a rebound and promptly went on an 11-0 run that didn't end until Hughes hit a 3-pointer with less than two minutes left.

By then, it was too little too late.

"We clawed back and got it to 47-42 and missed three straight wide open looks off of offensive rebounds," UW head coach Bo Ryan said of the stretch. "If somebody is going to tell me that we'd go eight minutes without hitting a shot there…I just thought we were in great shape to that point meaning we survived some things early.

"We couldn't buy one."

Wisconsin finished the game with 33 points off of 30 shots from downtown. It also only managed to muster six points inside the paint for the second time in three games. For a team that had momentum seemingly on its side as it heads towards March, Thursday's game was a painful reminder of what happens when shots don't fall.

"Tonight we played like we did last year," UW senior guard Trevon Hughes said. "It's unacceptable. We had a crappy week of practice and it was all my fault. I was being a goofball in practice all week and that's unacceptable.

"I'm going to step up my leadership."

The following are post game audio files:
Bo Ryan, #1, post Minny (2/18/10)
Bo Ryan, #2, post Minny (2/18/10)
Bohannon, post Minny (2/18/10)
Hughes, post Minny, (2/18/10)

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