Lion Tamers

It wasn't close to the level of competition No.23 Wisconsin will face on Wednesday in Gainesville, but the Badgers used their athleticism, guard plan and size advantage in the post to start the 2012-13 season on a high note,

MADISON - Officially, the University of Wisconsin only played one exhibition before opening its 2012-13 season Sunday. Unofficially, they played two. Three days before its early-season litmus test against No.10 Florida, No.23 Wisconsin used a strong all-around effort on both ends of the court to cruise past Southeastern Louisiana, 87-47, at the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin (1-0) was faster to the ball than the Lions, had a bigger size advantage in the paint and were more aggressive on both ends of the floor, which shouldn't have been a surprise against the Southland Conference opponent. Wisconsin frontcourt advantage was evident, as the Badgers scored 40 of its 87 points in the paint and held a 49-22 rebounding edge.

"It's not like last year where we told the guys don't go to the glass," UW coach Bo Ryan said. "You take advantage of opportunities, and there were opportunities tonight."

The Badgers starting lineup combined for 53 points, shooting 32 of 61 from the field and hitting eight of 21 three-pointers. Wisconsin also controlled the offensive boards, hauling in 19 offensive rebounds and blocked seven Lions shots.

"It wasn't so much an initial offensive rebound at times tonight," Ryan said. "I think 10 of them were somebody got a hand on them first, not controlled, and then we got control. We're going to play teams that are bigger."

Added Southeastern Louisiana coach Jim Yarbrough: "We came in here knowing it was a challenge. I don't think they (the Badgers) need to be worried about low scoring affairs. Their defense will be fine, and their rebounding ability."

Wisconsin was efficient from three point range from the opening tip. Redshirt freshman George Marshall got the scoring started by knocking down a three-pointer from the top of the key for his first collegiate points. Freshmen Sam Dekker and Zack Bohannan each scored their first points as a Badger on three-point field goals, as five different Badgers hit from the perimeter. That hot shooting effort helped start a 19-0 run for the Badgers.

Junior Ben Brust started and played well replacing fellow junior Josh Gasser, who appeared on the bench in a gray sweatshirt and crutches less than a week after successful ACL surgery. Brust had a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Senior Jared Berggren added 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and shot two for two from three-point range.

"You look at his size and then you look at where he (Brust) was in so many positions for rebound, he's got a big heart. He's a tough sucker," Ryan said. "That's why he's out there. Oh yeah, and he can make some shots, too."

Wisconsin used its size to hold the Lions top returning scorer - guard Brandon Fortenberry to two points – and held Southeastern Louisiana to 35 percent shooting (19-for-54). Fortenberry only made one of eight field goal attempts in 26 minutes.

"Obviously Josh was all-defensive team last year," Brust said. "We're going to have to do a good job working together and making sure we stopped penetration and do our best to get what we can without Josh. We're just going to have to step up."

Last year, Florida averaged 76 points per game and shot 38 percent from three-point range. The Gators main weapon was their best scorer from a season ago, as senior guard Kenny Boynton shot a career-best 40 percent from three-point range.

"I thought we did a pretty good job of at times handing (Fortenberry) off to the next guy, forcing him to squeeze into areas of the floor where he's not comfortable," Ryan said.

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