Badgers rip Prairie View A&M in season opener

first_imgJosh Gasser scored 21 points against Prairie View in his debut, good for 2nd best in UW history.[/media-credit]Maybe the holiday season isn’t quite here yet, but nevertheless, the No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) received an early gift in their season-opening 99-55 trouncing of the Prairie View A&M Panthers (0-2) Sunday evening at the Kohl Center.Senior forward Jon Leuer led all scorers with 24 points and seven rebounds and junior guard Jordan Taylor contributed 20 points and six assists, but arguably the biggest story for Wisconsin was freshman guard Josh Gasser. The 6-foot-3, 185-lb Port Washington, Wis. native scored 21 points, pulled down nine rebounds (six offensive) and contributed three assists in 26 minutes of playing time.Gasser’s 21 points marked the second-highest point total in a Wisconsin freshman debut, and the team’s 99 points were the most since the Badgers scored 105 against Eastern Illinois in 1995.“If I didn’t [like what I saw], they’d be giving me an examination,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said of Gasser. “He took care of the ball; he made great decisions. People remember the points, but he did some other things pretty well.”After breezing through their exhibition schedule, the Badgers were tested early by the Panthers Sunday, as the halftime score was tight, at 41-31. Wisconsin shot only 36.8 percent from the field in the first half, including 23.5 percent from three-point range. Prairie View A&M, meanwhile, came out hot, knocking down 46.2 percent of their first half shots and sinking more than half of their attempts from behind the arc.“We were a little anxious [in the first half],” Ryan said. “It was heads butting and tough, hard, aggressive play; some shots not going down and the other team hitting some shots. We still got that 40 complete minutes, but our shot selection was better in the second half.”Leuer, in particular, came out red-hot, nailing three consecutive treys to give UW a 9-0 lead from the start. The lead extended to 15-6 with 12:50 remaining before PVA&M hit two shots to come within five points. After two Gasser free throws sandwiched between two Taylor field goals, Wisconsin’s lead hit double digits at 21-11 with 7:30 on the clock.“We were just out there trying to get better; that was the main focus tonight,” Leuer said. “I thought we did that, and that’s been our goal from day one, to just keep getting better. We don’t really ever focus on the numbers.”Indeed, the Badgers got better in the second half. Taylor opened the period with a steal and breakaway layup to put the score at 43-31, and six minutes later, Wisconsin had built a 20-point lead, 59-39 at the 13:56 mark. UW’s lead never sank below 20 for the duration of the game, and it was extended to 40 when Brett Valentyn sunk a three-pointer with 3:09 left to make the score 95-55. After a quick 4-0 run, the game ended 99-55.“I think we played with a higher energy level in the second half,” Taylor said. “John and Tim [Jarmusz] in the locker room, they were in there telling us we need to come out with more intensity; we were a little flat in the first half. In the second half, we just came out; we pushed the ball, we played better defense and it translated into [the win].”While Wisconsin’s shot selection improved in the second half, the bench play was arguably the biggest reason the Badgers outscored the Panthers 58-24. Sophomore forward Mike Bruesewitz – after only playing three minutes in the first half and not taking a shot – was perfect from the field in the second half, connecting on all three of his attempts from behind the arc and hitting one other layup to finish with 11 points. Known for his budding red-orange afro, “Brueser” also provided a significant spark off the bench, pulling down six rebounds and dishing out two assists.“Bruesewitz is a kind of guy who can shot-fake, put it on the floor and get to the glass, pull up or hit wide-open threes when open,” Ryan said.Wquinton Smith and Jarmusz also were solid contributors, filling in the starting lineup spots vacated by the graduated backcourt duo of Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon. Smith only scored one point but pulled down five offensive rebounds and picked up three assists, while Jarmusz added two rebounds, two assists and two steals. 6-10 redshirt sophomore forward/center Jared Berggren added seven points and displayed his potential as another three-point marksmen, connecting on one of his four shots from behind the arc. Valentyn finished with six points on two three-pointers, as well.“With what we have this year, we’re going to have to do it by committee, there’s no question,” Ryan said. “We’ve had teams like this before. You’ve got to ham and egg it off of each other enough to get by in some of the games we’re going to be in.”last_img read more