After shooting less than 40 percent for five straight halves, including the first half against Green Bay, No.14 Wisconsin turned up the offense with a 57.7 shooting performance after halftime and kept the screws locked down defensively to get back on the winning track with a 70-42 over the Phoenix in front of 17,076 at the Kohl Center, a number that ended a streak of 143 straight home sellouts.
"I think we did a good job of moving the ball, getting the good shots every time down and did a better job of taking care of the ball this time around," said senior Jordan Taylor, who led all scorers with 15. "It's about trying to get better every game … and trying to win every one from here on out."
Wisconsin (7-2) shot 36.4 percent in the first half and shot 3-for-17 (17.6 percent) from 3-point range the entire game, but built a 12-point edge by getting 14 points from a bench that barely got a chance to sit down. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan made four substitutions in the first 4:26, including hooking Ryan Evans just 37 seconds into the game.
The unit certainly picked up some slack by holding Green Bay (4-5) to 29.6 percent shooting, including eight straight misses during a 19-6 run to open a 31-17 lead.
When Evans started the second half, consider him a man determined. Along with fellow junior Jared Berggren, the duo went on an 8-0 run to open a 41-21 lead than the Phoenix chipped fewer than 20 only twice the rest of the game.
"It's always good to see when you have guys come off the bench," said Berggren, as the bench outscored Green Bay, 21-16. "We know we have plenty of guys that can step in and get some good minutes. We showed that tonight … When we get guys going like that, we'll be tough to stop."
Although getting outrebounded for the third straight game (Green Bay held a 37-36 edge on the glass), Evans and Berggren filled the stat sheet. Evans scores 14 points – going 5-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the free throw line – and had six rebounds while Berggren scored 13 points, had a career-high four steals and tied a career high with three blocks.
He was also part of the committee that held Phoenix leading scorer Alec Brown to 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, one year after he scored 18 in the Kohl Center.
"We played a good team on a mission tonight," said Green Bay coach Brian Wardle. "You could tell right off the bat … We did not compete at a very good level."
Ryan, however, didn't buy that notion that Wisconsin was angered by back-to-back losses to ranked teams.
"You should be on a mission every night," Ryan said. "I don't try to get guys more revved up for one game than another. Bright young men figure out that every contest is pretty important. Every possession is."
One of those on the mission was the All-American Taylor. After shooting 10-for-30 in the two losses last week and starting 1-for-6 in the first half, Taylor engineered an offensive explosion by doing what he does best with the basketball. He fed Josh Gasser just before stepping over half court that led to an old-fashioned 3-point play and later hit Mike Bruesewitz from just past midcourt for a thunderous dunk.
He finished with a career-high 10 assists to go along with his 15 points, his second-career double-double, and no turnovers, increasing his season assist-to-turnover ratio to 51-to-12.
"I was trying to make good decisions every time down the court and get the best shots," said Taylor, who turned the ball over a season-high five times against Marquette, but didn't force things against the Phoenix. "Shots aren't falling for some guys right now, but just keep working and getting better every day and that will come."
Since tying a school record with seven 3-pointers against BYU, sophomore Ben Brust is 3 for 13 from the perimeter and 9 for 28 overall, but added six points, four rebounds and two steals. Bruesewitz contributed eight rebounds and 10 different UW players scored points.
Even when Wisconsin was starting to pull away in the first half, the crowd was far from impressed, seeing as the biggest cheer was when Wisconsin senior quarterback Russell Wilson was introduced to the crowd during the under four minute media timeout.
"We felt we wanted to come here and definitely get a win," said Evans. "I think we were a little bit more focused coming into this Green Bay team. We put (the losses) past us and UNLV is next."