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December 1, 2010MADISON - It didn't take long for the Wisconsin defense to set the tone during Wednesday's 87-48 laugher over North Carolina State.
Looking at the final score it's obvious the offense wasn't too far behind.
Jon Leuer scored a game-high 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting and Jordan Taylor added 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Overall the Badgers shot a smooth 50 percent from the floor, which shattered any hopes of a Wolfpack upset bid early on.
"You're going to shoot it well at home and you're going to shoot it well on the road," UW head coach Bo Ryan, who improved his all-time record to 70-5 against non-conference opponents inside the Kohl Center, said. "You've just got to do it more consistently."
Limping back to its home arena after an offensive struggle in Orlando, the Badgers were due for a slump buster. In the championship game against Notre Dame, UW struggled to close out a Fighting Irish team that wasn't shooting particularly well with an untimely drought late in the second half.
During that game the Badgers shot a paltry 35 percent from the floor and an even worse 30 percent clip from downtown. Apparently that poor shooting worked itself out by Wednesday.
"I don't think too many teams shot too well down in Orlando, including us," sophomore Mike Bruesewitz, who hit all three shots he attempted from beyond the arc, said. "Our guys got into the gym and got some jump shots up (this week). Plus it's always nice to come home."
Whether it was home cooking, sleeping in their own bed or returning to the Kohl Center, several things went well for the Badgers offensively against the Wolfpack. UW nailed 55 percent of its shots from distance, out-rebounded NC State by a healthy margin and dished 17 assists with only six turnovers.
During the defining 23-0 that started in the first half before trickling into the final 20 minutes, UW shot 66 percent from the floor and hit 6-of-8 free throws. By the end, the Badgers made more free throws (20) than its opponent attempted (13).
"We were making hard cuts and they have to defend them," Leuer, who also ripped down 11 boards to secure his fourth-career double-double, said. "The officials were seeing that and that's how we were able to build up a lot of fouls against them. That and getting the ball inside. Anytime we can out shoot our opposition with free throws we have a really good chance of winning.
"We always want to make hard cuts and build up fouls on teams. That just wears them down."
If you take UW's top five scorers (Leuer, Taylor, Berggren, Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans), you'd have a crew of players that combined to shoot 74 percent from the floor during the win. Bruesewitz and Berggren didn't miss from downtown, combining for a perfect 6-for-6 shooting display.
The Badgers were more aggressive from the get-go, whether it was Taylor posting his defender up or Leuer attacking the rim. This is the way the Wisconsin offense is supposed to run and that is the way they will beat teams throughout the remainder of the non-conference and conference schedule.
Just ask NC State how they faired against an opportunistic offense.
"We knew they could shoot the ball just knowing their personnel and watching them on film," NC State head coach Sidney Lowe said. "They're a different team. When they get penetration, as opposed to their bigs rolling, they'll pop out. They spread you out.
"They shot lights out."
-UW has now won three-straight ACC-Big Ten Challenge games. The Badgers beat Virginia Tech in 2008, Duke in 2009 and NC State tonight. Overall, UW is 6-6 all time during the event.
-Wisconsin has already beaten two ACC teams this season. Overall, the Badgers have a six game winning streak against the conference.
-With another strong defensive effort, UW has now forced opponents into 13 droughts of 4:00 or longer this season.
-UW hasn't turned the ball over more than eight times for four-straight games. In Wednesday's win the Badgers committed just six turnovers.
-The Badgers have played seven games this season. During three of those contests UW has held its opponents to 50 points or less.
-With his 21-point effort, Jordan Taylor recorded his fifth career game with more than 20 points scored.
-Jared Berggren established a new career high with 12 points on 3-of-3 shooting from downtown. He is the eighth different Badger to post a double-digit scoring performance this season.
Leuer on the Big Ten winning the challenge:
"It means a lot. We take pride in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. As a conference it's something we look forward to. To win it definitely feels good and it builds up our RPI for the conference. That's a positive. Overall it's just a good thing for the conference."