Badgers spread the wealth

Wisconsin mystifies Michigan's defense in 20-assist performance

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team knew coming into Wednesday night's game that Michigan's athleticism allowed it to be efficient pressuring the ball. But UW had an answer to that and all it took was a few extra passes.

The Badgers dished out 20 assists en route to their 76-50 home win here and punished the Wolverines from the get-go for their tendency to double team and scramble defensively.

With seven assists on their first seven baskets, the Badgers were able to jump out to a 19-8 lead with 11:11 to go in the first half and then cruise the rest of the way.

"It [the extra pass] helped a lot, especially early on," senior Mike Wilkinson said. "They came in and wanted to put a lot of pressure on not only the guards, but threw a couple traps here and there. We did a good job of finding the open guy and moving the ball."

Sophomore Kammron Taylor led UW with five assists off the bench as five Badgers tallied at least two assists in the game.

With 10 assists in each half, the Badgers were able to consistently defeat Michigan's defense on the night and did it primarily within their half-court system.

"It was tough to get to the rim on dribble penetration," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "We got there in the open court a couple times, [Alando] Tucker did. But, what happened a lot of times was on penetration and kicks or post feeds and then kick outs. So that's how you end up with 20 assists."

"If you're passing the ball and you're attacking gaps, we tried to make them pay for their pressure. They were doubling and they were trying to get us to turn it over. I thought our guys made good decisions out of the double-teams or got rid of it before they established."

Very rarely was Michigan able to get established on the defensive end of the court. With Michigan's mix of man-to-man and zone defense, Wisconsin countered with crisp passing and ultimately kept the Wolverines moving and guessing the entire night.

For the game, Michigan was only able to force seven Badger turnovers and UW made 48 percent its shots.

"With that kind of pressure, you got to make them move on defense," Wilkinson said. "A couple times, they over ran a couple plays and you just kind of found yourself open. Guys knocked down open looks. That's the big [thing] when guys are trying to pressure you, move the ball and find the open people."

And the open guys connected for Wisconsin. Whether it was down low in the paint or around the perimeter, the Badgers finished on all fronts.

All thanks to the extra pass.

The Badgers 20 assists Wednesday night was the most they have had in conference play this season and the tenth time this season they have notched double-digit assists. Wisconsin is now 7-3 in conference play when they tally more than 10 assists in a game.

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