Wisconsin used the long ball as it opened its regular season with a dominating 85-31 victory over the Kennesaw State Owls Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center. The 31 points allowed is the fewest points allowed since 1996 when the Badgers allowed 30 in a 52-30 victory over Brown. It is also the fourth fewest points allowed in school history.
"There were plenty of possessions in this game," Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan said. "I'm sure their points-per-possession will be low, and to us that's always the most important thing. But again, this is their first game with a new coach and new system. I think we did a pretty good job of forcing them into maybe taking some shots they didn't want to."
After Kennesaw State opened with the first three points of the game on a banked in 3-pointer by Spencer Dixon, Wisconsin scored the next 16 points. Mike Bruesewitz made consecutive 3-pointers in the run. Bruesewitz went 2-4 from behind the 3-point line and as a team, the Badgers went 15-25. The 15 made 3-pointers ranks second in school history for 3-pointers made in a game. The record is 17. In all, eight players hit at least one shot and Josh Gasser and Ben Brust led the team with four 3-pointers each.
“We are an unselfish team and we’ve got a lot of guys on the floor that can hit shots, so we were just making the extra pass out there," Gasser said.
Wisconsin made seven of its first 10 3-point attempts to take control of the game early. Gasser and Brust led the Badgers in scoring with 14 each. Gasser made all four of his 3-point shots, while Brust went 4-8 from downtown. Ryan Evans chipped in with 13 points and was second on the team with six rebounds. All-American Jordan Taylor scored 11 points and added a game-high seven assists in 28 minutes. Jared Berggren also added 11 to round out the double figure scorers for Wisconsin.
“We’ve been saying for a while now that we have a lot of guys who can put the ball in the hole, and guys who have been waiting for their opportunity to step up," Taylor said. "It’s just exciting to see unselfish play and everybody knocking down shots, it just kind of shows what we are capable of.”
Preseason Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year Markeith Cummings led the Owls in scoring, having 18 points on 5-15 shooting and went 8-12 from the free throw line in 39 minutes. He also had a team-high six rebounds. Dixon was the second leading scorer for Kennesaw State with seven points to go along with his three rebounds.
The Owls just shot 13 percent in the first half, while the Badgers shot 54 percent to help Wisconsin to a 41-8 halftime lead. The eight points allowed in the first half matched a modern-era school record for fewest points allowed in a half. The Badgers also out-rebounded the Owls 41-20 with four players having at least four rebounds. Bruesewitz had a game-high eight rebounds.
Freshmen Jarrod Uthoff and George Marshall did not play, which has led people to believe they both may be redshirted.
Wisconsin returns to action Wednesday when it battles the Colgate Raiders at the Kohl Center at 7 p.m. Colgate is 1-0 after a 78-74 victory over Binghamton.