Mike Wilkinson scored seven of his game-high 18 points in the first three minutes, 29 seconds, as the Badgers (5-1) built a 12-0 lead, putting the Phoenix (4-2) in a hole they struggled to get out of the rest of the game.
"I don't think tonight we were ever a serious threat to Wisconsin and that bothers me. I thought we could come in here and be a threat to them," UW-Green Bay coach Tod Kowalczyk said.
The Badgers shot 4 of 13 from the beyond the three-point arc in the first half, accepting a perimeter-based attack against a Phoenix defense that focused on doubling the post, particularly when sophomore forward Alando Tucker received the ball on the low block. Tucker, though, scored the Badgers' first nine points of the second half—all from the paint or free-throw line—and finished with 16.
UW senior point guard Sharif Chambliss started for the second consecutive game, scoring 13 points on 4 of 6 shooting, including 2 of 3 from the beyond the arc.
This was not, however, an exhilarating display of offensive basketball. Wisconsin won with its defense, which had held Green Bay to 13 points with 2:50 left in the first half and 35 points with 7:29 left in the game.
"I think defense obviously sparked our offense tonight, just being instinctive defensively and going down offensively and executing," Chambliss said.
Wisconsin took a 35-21 lead into halftime and rebuilt a 21-point edge with 7:29 left to play, but the Phoenix methodically chipped away, closing to within 63-50 with 1:28 left.
It was a second half marred by long scoring droughts for each team and a combined 27 fouls, including 17 by the Phoenix. Only a few thousand fans stayed to see UW-Green Bay forward Tyler Koenig hit a three to close the game's scoring with one second left, as Wisconsin won its 32nd consecutive home game.
"Down the stretch simply we were going to work the clock and it ends up probably to some people looking like ugly basketball but if we have the ball and we're making them guard us we're going to get to the free throw line," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.
The Badgers' defense set the tone early, forcing a shot clock violation and an airball that landed out of bounds as the shot clock expired on Green Bay's first two possessions.
The Phoenix were scoreless until Josh Lawrence's basket four minutes and 28 seconds into the game, with four turnovers and four missed shots in the span.
"We had a lot of opportunities to score inside early and didn't convert," Kowalczyk said. "We struggled early on with their size."
The Phoenix settled down after the early run, turning it over just twice more in the first half, but could not draw closer than seven the rest of the game.
Phoenix junior forward Benito Flores' six quick points off the bench helped Green Bay draw within 16-9, but Wisconsin went on another 12-0 run after Flores picked up his second foul at 9:19 and took a seat on the bench.
Chambliss kicked off the ensuing run with a three at 8:38 to make it 23-11 and another Chambliss triple made it 30-11 three minutes later. Morley capped the run with a spin move in the lane, sinking a field goal to give the Badgers a 32-11 advantage with 4:50 left in the first half.
UW-Green Bay senior guard Matt Rohde hit a pair of threes to close it to 35-21 at the half but was otherwise held scoreless and turned it over four times.
Tucker was hounded with constant double teams in the first half and held to six points on 2 of 7 shooting. He went on a tear to open the second half, though, with a bucket in the paint, a three-point play from the low block and two more lay-ins off post moves—all in less than three minutes.
"Our game plan was to double team him and in the first half….I thought it was effective," Kowalczyk said. "I think our double team was a little bit late in the second half to start out with."
Phoenix guard Javier Mendiburu, who is suffering from an ankle injury, struggled to check Tucker defensively, allowing him to get the ball deep in the post.
"Javier is a tremendous player in our league," Kowalczyk said. "He's a guy that really is the heart and soul of our team and he has not practiced since the ankle injury, nor will he until Dec. 17….He is probably at 75 percent at best."
Wilkinson made it 46-28 at 16:25 but the Badgers then went scoreless over the next five minutes, 39 seconds, until Wilkinson hit a pair of baskets at the 10:46 and 10:12 marks to make it 50-31.
Green Bay could not take advantage of UW's drought because it was mired in its own in-game slump, scoring just one point between the 16:56 and 10:25 marks in the second half.
"There has been times [this season] where we haven't been scoring but our defense has kept us in the game," Wilkinson said.
Wisconsin made 10 of 17 free throws in the second half, as the Phoenix were called for 17 second-session fouls.