Too quick, too big, too good.
The Wisconsin Badgers, No. 5 team in the country, overwhelmed the University of Wisconsin-Milwauke Panthers Wednesday night in front of 10,120 fans at the UWM Panther Arena, blowing out Badgers coach Bo Ryan’s former program 93-54 in relatively easy fashion to improve to 9-1 on the year.
Rob Jeter, a former Ryan assistant in Madison, saw his Panthers drop to 4-6 on the season and 0-4 against programs from the major basketball conferences.
Simply, the Panthers couldn’t make a shot or prevent the Badgers from operating at will on the offensive end.
"When you see a team struggle as much as Wisconsin did their last game out (against Marquette) and you know they’re much better shooters than that, you just hope your’e not that next team that you have to play where it all comes together. That’s what it seems like happened tonight."
Wisconsin held a 45-24 advantage at the half behind 15 points by Badgers forward Sam Dekker, but this timeline pretty much describes how this game went.
At the 16-minute, 12-second mark in the second half, the Badgers were shooting 56 percent from the floor to the Panthers’ 34 percent. The score was 54-29.
- At 12:26, Wisconsin was shooting 58 percent, UWM 36 percent — 63-36.
- At 11:12, Wisconsin was at 60 percent, UWM at 35 percent — 67-36.
- At 9:23, Wisconsin was at 61 percent, UWM at 33 percent — 71-36.
- At 7:45, Wisconsin was at 62 percent, UWM at 34 percent — 77-40.
"We didn’t make them uncomfortable," Jeter said. "We played a little zone. We played man. We did a little of everything. It’s hard to get back into a zone when you’re down as many points as we were, but we just never made them uncomfortable."
Wisconsin finished shooting an incredible 60.9 percent from the floor after struggling at 32.7 percent against Marquette on Saturday.
"We know we can shoot," Badgers center Frank Kaminsky said. "We practice a lot of shooting every day in practice. We’ve got a lot of shooters on our team. It was just one of those games, as coach said in the locker room, it’s regressing to the mean. We didn’t shoot well against Marquette and we came out here and shot the lights out."
There were individual flashes of dominance, too.
Panthers’ guard Trinson White saw the lane open up in front of him minutes into the game, took the ball in his left hand but briefly juggled it, allowed Badgers center Frank Kaminsky to close, resulting in a vicious block that sent White to the floor, hard. That block led to a Duje Dukan 3-pointer.
There was Dekker imposing his will on White, and anyone else who tried to stop him, his day punctuated with an emphatic alley-oop dunk from Traevon Jackson halfway through the first half.
UW-Milwaukee was feisty at the start, making a concerted effort to team rebound on the defensive end, and they hustled in both man and zone coverage. The game was scoreless for the early part of the game, but the Panthers couldn’t make a shot, going 0-for-the first four minutes or so, allowing the Badgers to trot out to an 8-0 lead.
The Panthers cut it to 8-7, but the tide turned quickly. Dekker worked White for an easy two, Akeem Springs missed a quick 3-pointer for UWM and Dekker responded with a made 3, UWM missed again and Nigel Hayes converted a 3-point play. Suddenly, it was 16-9, and that brief moment early was the closest the game would be.
"You just gotta pick your spots when you see openings to attack and be aggressive," Dekker said. "The one thing I want to get back to doing, or need to get back to doing, is playing my game and being aggressive. And I thought I had a pretty good matchup there to get in the post, and my teammates did a good job of recognizing that and Trae called back-to-back plays for me to just get me involved."
Wisconsin now owns a 31-1 advantage in the series between the two universities.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.