The No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers used a 13-0 run in the first half to turn a tie game into a blowout as Wisconsin beat the UMKC Kangaroos 77-31 to improve to a perfect 4-0 before heading to Hoffman Estates, Ill. for its final two games of the Chicago Invitational Tournament. It’s the first time since 1949 that the Badgers have held four consecutive opponents under 50 points.
With the victory, Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan won his 246th game as the head coach of Wisconsin, tying him with Hall of Famer Walter Meanwell for second in school history. He now only trails Harold "Bud" Foster, who has 265 wins as the head coach for the Badgers.
"Doc Meanwell was a hell of a coach, great teacher and he was a doctor," Ryan said. "I pretend I’m a doctor sometimes diagnosing what you should do about a blister and then Henry (Perez-Guerra) gets mad at me so I can’t do that anymore."
Once again, the Badgers held its opponent to under 20 points in the first half, as Wisconsin led 41-18 at the half in this game. After a 3-pointer by UMKC's Reggie Chamberlain, Wisconsin scored 13 straight points to put the Badgers up 21-8. Josh Gasser had five points in the run, which ended on a pass along the baseline by Frank Kaminsky to an open Gasser in the corner, who buried the 3-pointer.
“We’re coming out sharp and stepping on throats early and letting them know they’re not going to come in here and out-work us," junior forward Mike Bruesewitz said. "That’s the biggest thing. We’re beating teams by out-working them. I feel like if we keep out-playing teams, we’ll be where we want to be at the end of the year.”
Jared Berggren led all scorers with a career-high 21 points. He went 4-4 from beyond the arc and added three blocks as well. All-American Jordan Taylor was more of a facilitator once again, scoring just nine points, but had seven rebounds and six assists in the game as well. Ben Brust and Bruesewitz both hit double figures as well, scoring 12 and 10 points respectively.
“I don’t know if there was anything different when I was shooting," Berggren said. "I’ve been doing the same things, trying to get some shots in earlier today, and during the shoot-around I felt pretty good. My teammates were just finding me in open spaces, and I was finally able to knock them down today. It felt good.”
The Badgers ended the half strong as well, ending the half on an 11-2 run to put the game away. Bruesewitz dominated the run, having eight points including two 3-pointers.
Wisconsin started the second half just like they ended the first, going on an 11-3 run to start the second half. The run featured 3-pointers by Gasser and Berggren along with a 3-point play by Berggren. UMKC finally had its first free throw attempts with 6:11 left in the game.
Freshman Frank Kaminsky had a nice day off the bench as well, scoring a career-high nine points on 3-4 shooting, including going 2-3 from 3-point land.
Reggie Chamberlain and Trinity Hall led the way for UMKC, scoring seven points each. But Hall needed 15 shots to earn those seven points. The Kangaroos shot a woeful 20.8 percent from the field. Wisconsin shot 51.7 percent, including shooting 48.1 percent from behind the 3-point line.
“When the 3-pointers go in," Ryan said. "It’s a thing of beauty isn’t it?
Next up for the Badgers is the Bradley Braves Friday night at Hoffman Estates, Ill. in the Chicago Invitational Invitational Tournament at 7:30 p.m before playing the following day against either BYU or Nevada.