Wisconsin men's basketball went outside the comforts of the Kohl Center for the 1st time this season, but the results were pretty much the same. The Badgers took down the Bradley Braves 66-43 in the Semifinals of the Chicago Invitational Challenge at the Sears Center and will now face BYU in the finals tomorrow night.
Wisconsin moved to 5-0 on the year, something it hasn't done since the 2007-08 season. The win also put Bo Ryan into sole possession of 2nd place on the Wisconsin all-time wins list with 247, moving ahead of Hall of Famer Walter Meanwell. Ryan is now only 18 wins away from the #1 spot in the Wisconsin record books.
The bad news tonight? Wisconsin gave up the most points it has to an opponent all season at 43. The good news? The trio of Ryan Evans, Josh Gasser, and Jordan Taylor outscored the Braves on their own, 45-43.
Wisconsin continued to play amazing defense once again in holding Bradley to only 34% FG shooting, a paltry 14.3% from 3 point range, and forced 17 turnovers for the game.
The Braves were led on the scoring front by Taylor Brown, who led all scorers with 18 points on 8-20 shooting and also added 9 rebounds. The Braves defense was pretty decent, forcing the Badgers into tying their season high with 10 turnovers.
Bradley enjoyed running the pace for most of the 1st half. That pace helped Bradley keep it close, only down 7-10 with 15:13 left in the 1st half. However, it was downhill from that point forward for the Braves as Wisconsin would go on a 13-2 run and would extend that lead to 23-9 with just over 9 minutes to play in the half.
Bradley wouldn't go away quietly though as they would cut the deficit to 9 at 21-30 with just 2 minutes left in the half and would cut it to 6 less than a minute later. However, Wisconsin would take a 32-24 lead into Halftime and never really look back.
Wisconsin would pull away easily from that point on, outscoring Bradley 32-19 in the 2nd half in route to the win. The trio of Evans, Gasser, and Taylor all tied for the team lead in scoring with 15 points a piece and all played amazing games all around. For the game Wisconsin shot 42.4% from the field, but shot a season low 36.4% from 3 point range.
On any normal night the breakout of Jordan Taylor, who scored his season high in points, would be the story, but tonight that wouldn't be the case thanks to his team high 4 turnovers and the play of Evans and Gasser. Jared Berggren also deserves mention as he hauled in a team high 10 rebounds and added 7 points. For the game all 12 Badgers saw action and 10 of the 12 would score at least 2 points or more.
For their efforts tonight Evans and Gasser share co-player of the game honors as Evans had his 15 points to go along with 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 4 steals in what could be his most complete game as a Badger and Gasser added 8 rebounds and 2 assists to his 15 points.