Badgers clamp down, blow out Purdue

Wilkinson contributes 23 points, 12 rebounds in rout

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MADISON, Wis.—The incidental superlatives from Wisconsin's latest dominating home win are many.


The most important ramification, though, is quite clear. With one week remaining in the Big Ten regular season the Badgers (10-4 Big Ten, 19-6 overall) are still within striking distance of winning a third consecutive conference title.


"I would think that for the Wisconsin basketball fans out there to be able in the last week of the season still be talking about the conference championship, that's not all bad," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.


The Badgers' 82-46 win over Purdue (7-7, 17-10) Sunday kept them one game behind Michigan State and Illinois in the loss column, with a quick trip to East Lansing, Mich. for a tip off scheduled just 50 hours after the conclusion of Sunday's game.


The Spartans, who hold a half-game edge on Illinois, can wrap up a share of the conference title with a win Tuesday. 


"We are playing for a title too," Wisconsin junior forward Mike Wilkinson said. "It's just not them playing for a title."


The Badgers certainly played like champions Sunday, dictating the action from start to finish with tenacious defensive play, remarkably persistent work on the glass and an offense that came to vivid life in the second half, blowing open a game that had shown faint hints of drawing tight.


Wilkinson led the way with his third double-double of the season, his 23 points one shy of a career high and 12 rebounds tying a career high.


"I can talk a lot about his effort," Ryan said. "He was opportunistic. He was active offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding…Wilkinson did all the little things."


Junior guard Devin Harris, meanwhile, scored 14 of his 16 points in a second half in which Wisconsin outscored Purdue 53-25.


"I said the important thing, at halftime, is competing," Purdue coach Gene Keady said. "Harris had only two points, so I did not think he was going to let up. He is going to come back and stick it up your fanny and get you."


Sophomore guard David Teague, who led Purdue with 12 points, hit two 3-pointers late in the first half to help draw the Boilermakers within 29-21 at the break.


Wisconsin, though, went on a 10-0 run early in the second half to pull away and poured it on throughout the final 20 minutes.


The spurt began with Wilkinson passing up a 3-pointer and finding Harris, who knocked down his own three. Wilkinson set up another Harris' triple with an offensive rebound and assist, and capped the run with a pair of free throws to make it 42-23.


Wilkinson and the Badgers made a habit of crashing the glass. Wisconsin outrebounded Purdue 38-19 and grabbed 16 offensive boards, including eight from Wilkinson, leading to 16 second-chance points.


"We could have played a lot better if we had done one thing better and that is box out," Keady said. "Cause everything we do is watch the ball fly over our head and nobody blocked one man off. It was unbelievable."


"That is quite an advantage on the board and I thought that our guys were extremely aggressive," Ryan said. "They were very good at moving their feet and getting into position to limit them to very few offensive rebounds."


Purdue entered the game allowing the second fewest points per game (58.5) and the lowest field goal percentage (39.9) in the Big Ten. Wisconsin shot 58 percent in the second half and 52 percent for the game.


The win was the Badgers' 28th consecutive at home, currently the third-longest streak in the nation, and five shy of the school-record 33, set from 1911-15. Wisconsin has now finished undefeated at home in conference play in each of Bo Ryan's three years as head coach, a 24-0 record. This season, though, was the first under Ryan in which UW finished undefeated in all home games (15-0). The last time that happed was the 1929-30 season.


"It is showing that we are a very tough team at home, especially in conference play," Harris said. "Pretty much we are a different team here. We play off all the excitement, the fans. It is just a good feeling to know that teams have a very difficult time winning here."


Wisconsin has now won at least 10 conference games in three straight seasons for the first time since 1912-14.


Lack of turnovers keys win


Wisconsin turned the ball over just seven times Sunday and only once in the second half, when Harris attempted an alley-oop pass to Boo Wade that glanced off the backboard and caromed out of bounds.


"The only turnover in the second half is a pass that Devin attempts that was a little shaky," Ryan said. "I'm being nice. It just at the time might have looked open, sometimes that happens, when you're a player that sees something…but that was our only turnover."


Wisconsin had 19 assists on 31 baskets.


"I sure liked the other plays that were made, especially finding guys with the bounce pass," Ryan said. "It was good ball movement. Good passing and catching. It's still a fundamental that you can never be completely efficient at."


"That is the greatest thing that Wisconsin does is take care of the basketball," Keady said.

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