North Dakota came in with the clear game plan to not let the 6-foot-10 UW forward dominate them offensively as he has with every other opponent this season and sent a double team at Leuer every time he touched the ball inside the arc.
It didn't work.
After getting this treatment on his first two touches, Leuer anticipated the double teams with ease and started finding teammates cutting to the hoop or spotting up for jumpers. Keaton Nankivil was a particular benefactor in this treatment, getting two dunks straight from Leuer and finishing off several other passes with a mid-range swish in the first half.
Leuer finished the game with seven assists, with five coming in the game's opening 20 minutes. As North Dakota backed off in the second half, Leuer was able to attack the hoop again, hitting six-of-ten shots and reaching the free throw line eight times, making all eight to lead the Badgers with 22 points.
"He could have had ten assists, we bobbled a few of them," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "I thought he did a great job of seeing the floor and not forcing things and he will need that against some other opponents. He will see some of the same things but we know he can pass."
At the beginning of the season, it was unclear where the Badgers were going to get points on a consistent basis besides the Big Two of Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor.
While it has come against two completely overmatched teams, the Badgers have shown early this season they can score with any five players on the floor. Five different players finished with double-digit scoring Tuesday night, making it seven different members of the UW roster who have put in at least ten points in two games.
Nankivil in particular, will be someone Wisconsin needs to makes shots night in and night out. When he is a threat on the floor, his perimeter shooting opens up so much else for the rest of the team, but he has been known to disappear for lengths at a time.
"With some guys it just comes naturally. With Keaton he has to do some things mentally to stay one step ahead, instead of some times getting one step behind," Ryan said.
Bo Ryan changed his starting lineup…Seriously
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan has always been a big picture guy, preferring to take time on decisions rather than reacting after one game.
Or at least he used to be.
Just two games into the season and the Badgers have already changed up two of the starting five — unheard of under Ryan for any reason other than injury.
On Tuesday, Bruesewitz and Gasser got the start after both shined in Sunday's game against Prairie View A&M. Gasser is only the third freshman ever — joining Al Harris and Alando Tucker — to start a game at Wisconsin for Bo.
Still, after the game, Ryan suggested it may have just been a schedule quirk that led to this unprecedented switch.
"It is early and we have some things to find out," Ryan said. "We had some guys nicked up and some guys go to class on the on day [between games] … Tim Jarmusz was in a situation where if he is not getting the reps in a one day turnaround, then he will see a little bit from the bench then get in there and take care of business."