Badger balance too much for Platteville

Wisconsin gears up for Saturday's season opener with 78-44 exhibition win

MADISON—Behind a balanced scoring attack that included four players in double-figures, the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team wrapped up preseason play with an impressive 78-44 exhibition win over UW-Platteville Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.

Led by senior forward Mike Wilkinson's 15 points and four rebounds, the Badgers directed an efficient offense and backed it up with a stifling and aggressive defense to dominate their final opponent before the start of the regular season this Saturday versus Penn.

"My hats off to Wisconsin," UW Platteville head coach Paul Combs said. "It's remarkable how they can play [so] sound fundamentally and be so efficient at both ends of the floor."

After the Pioneers jumped out to an early 7-4 lead with 15:35 to go in the first half, the Badgers buckled down defensively and forced 11 turnovers over the remainder of the half and built a lead as large as 21 points. The Badgers entered halftime with a 38-22 advantage and carried their momentum into the second half by ripping off a 24-4 run over the first 11 minutes of the second stanza.

In the second half, UW built a lead to as much as 39 points as all members of the team got involved in the scoring department. In addition to Wilkinson, for the contest, the Badgers received 12 points from sophomore forward Alando Tucker, 11 points from seniors Andreas Helmigk and Zach Morley, eight from senior Sharif Chambliss, seven from senior Clayton Hanson, five from freshman Michael Flowers, four from sophomore Kammron Taylor, three from junior Ray Nixon and two from freshman Tanner Bronson.

Sophomore forward Jason Chappell and freshmen centers Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma all sat out the game due to injury. Freshman forward DeAaron Williams chose to sit out the game as he continues to contemplate a redshirt.

UW's starting five remained consistent across the two exhibitions, with Taylor, Hanson, Tucker, Wilkinson and Helmigk getting the nods.

For the game, the Badgers shot 51.7 percent from the field and held Platteville to 43.2 percent shooting, but more importantly accumulated 13 steals which translated into 29 points.

"I saw improvements in some areas tonight," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "Platteville we felt was going to be a tougher team to go against from an experience standpoint … so we thought they would click and they did early. Fortunately our guys were able to just wear them down a little bit and take them out of certain things. But it wasn't because they weren't executing, it was just that we started to beat them to spots and take some things away."

Much of the reason for UW's ability to wear down the Pioneers was directly correlated to the Badgers' depth off the bench. Despite missing Chappell, Butch and Stiemsma, the Badgers were able call upon others to step up their performance, play quality minutes and help contribute to the win.

Flowers was undoubtedly one of those players as he added six rebounds, four steals and one assist to his scoring output. More than his statistical production, Flowers added a lot of hustle and intensity to the team off the bench in the 22 minutes he played.

In the game, Flowers received several minutes at the point for the Badgers, one position that still remains a question mark on the team entering the regular season. However, with the speed of Flowers, Chambliss and Taylor (who started the game), UW poses a triple threat that Division III teams like Platteville and even Division I teams rarely see.

"I would say the biggest difference is that when we play Division III athletes you might run into a guy that's really quick, but we don't run into a guy that's really quick and can shoot," Platteville senior guard Brad Reitzner said. "I think that's a big difference, in our level you can play to a guy's strengths, but when you're playing a Big Ten team, they're pretty much all-around great players."

Through much of the game, the Badgers had to battle through tough screens, picks and a lot of movement from the Platteville's offense. Ryan believes that the challenge the Pioneers posed will definitely help the Badgers for the start of the regular season this Saturday when UW hosts Penn at the Kohl Center.

"We know the precision that Penn runs their offense with, very similar to what Platteville does, with a lot of the screens they were setting for [Brad] Reitzner and how they looked to open up the post," Ryan said. "Penn does a lot of the same things, this will be good preparation for us for Saturday."

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