The Coyotes were just in their third year transitioning to Division I. They had a floppy-haired guard – the coach's son – who drew chants of "Justin Bieber" from a half-full UW student section.
But looks can be deceiving, and they certainly were in this case.
Jon Leuer scored 20 of his career-high 29 points in the first half and Jordan Taylor (20 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists) finished just one assist short of what would have been the program's first triple-double.
But South Dakota absorbed those big performances and stayed within striking distance of the Badgers for most of the game before falling off the pace late as UW won 76-61.
"I'm sure they felt they were in pretty good control of that game throughout, and they were," South Dakota head coach Dave Boots said.
While some fans might have been surprised the Coyotes (3-5) kept things as close as they did, UW head coach Bo Ryan wasn't at all caught off guard. Just two weeks ago, South Dakota lost by 13 to Marquette, so this wasn't uncharted territory for the Coyotes.
"If you watched South Dakota on film, you could've scripted this game yourself," said Ryan, as Wisconsin (6-2) shot 45.3 percent for the game. "This is how they play. They're good. They shoot it well. They have streaks."
Taylor made sure the script played out the way Ryan wanted by scoring nine of Wisconsin's final 14 points to close out the game. The UW point guard got to the free throw line four times by asserting himself with dribble penetration and also dropped a nice pass off to Leuer for a two-handed dunk that put the exclamation point on the win.
"He showed tonight just how he runs the show," Leuer said. "He's just able to get into the lane and just cause so many different problems for the defense. They have to help on him, and he just makes great decisions with the ball and he finds the open guy."
A couple times in the first half, it looked like the Badgers would have no problem with the Coyotes. Leuer was on fire early, making three three-pointers as UW jumped out to a 13-2 run after four minutes.
But South Dakota had the lead down to five just four minutes later thanks to UW turnovers on three of four possessions.
A 12-2 run midway through the first half seemed to put UW in control, up 30-15 with 8:29 left in the first half. But South Dakota didn't let the game get away and responded with a 12-3 run of its own to end the first half down just 42-37.
UW helped keep the Coyotes in the game in the first half by being careless with the ball. The Badgers turned the ball over seven times in the first half, which led to 13 points in transition for South Dakota.
"If we could've had less turnovers and finished around the basket, that would've eliminated some of their open looks," Leuer said.