Butch, Stiemsma dominate in Badger win

Forwards hold Louisiana Tech forward Paul Millsap in check; Butch leads Wisconsin offense

MADISON—The long arms of Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma led Wisconsin to a resounding victory at the Kohl Center here Wednesday night. With Butch and Stiemsma at the forefront the No. 24 Badgers (10-1) dominated visiting Louisiana Tech (7-6) in the paint in a 78-52 rout.

It was the best performance of the non-conference campaign for either Butch or Stiemsma, and it came with a significant challenge on the floor: Bulldog junior forward Paul Millsap, the nation's two-time defending rebounding king.

But the 6-foot-8 Millsap could not handle the length of the 6-11 Butch and Stiemsma or 6-10 center Jason Chappell.

"Their post people just killed us all night long," Tech coach Keith Richard said.

Butch and Stiemsma combined for six blocked shots in the first half and eight in the game, including three first-half rejections of Millsap. Stiemsma had four blocks in just nine first-half minutes and finished with a career-high five.

Millsap, who entered the game averaging 21.3 points and 12 rebounds, was held to 16 points—most of which came after UW had the game salted away—and a career-low five rebounds.

"Paul has struggled against taller people at times throughout his career, including tonight," Richard said. "Size bothers him, especially if we can't pull them out and get people off of him a little bit by making some outside shots."

The Badgers' dominant interior defense coerced Tech into hoisting a season-high 30 three-pointers. They made just seven and shot only 31 percent overall.

Meanwhile, Butch scored 11 emphatic points in the first half, on his way to a game-high 18. He added 10 rebounds for his second career double-double and contributed career highs with five assists and three blocks.

"That's a good (stat) line for Brian," UW coach Bo Ryan said. "It's a good line for anybody."

UW jumped out 8-0 and took a 13-3 lead when Butch rejected Millsap to start a fast break that ended with Butch's three-point play at 15:51.

Just about everything went right for Butch. He made 8 of 12 field goals, including a baseline jumper that made it 30-14 5:42 before halftime.

Butch put the finishing touch on his first-half output with a pretty fadeaway jumper over Millsap with 39 seconds left.

"He got a chance to get some catches in some good areas and he also got some good looks at the basket from the perimeter," Ryan said.

Five of the Badgers' first six field goals—and 22 of their 39 first-half points—came in the paint.

After abusing Tech's zone defense inside, Ray Nixon opened the second half with a pair of three-pointers off of Butch assists. Butch then hit a three-pointer of his own. Butch's tip-in over Millsap effectively sealed the game with a 50-25 edge with 17:09 to play. The Badgers led by as many as 30 in the second half.

It was a difficult trip for the Bulldogs. Tech's connecting flight from Dallas was cancelled due to heavy fog here Tuesday. The Bulldogs had to spend the night in Dallas, then woke up at 3:30 Wednesday morning for a 6 a.m. flight. They did not check into their hotel in Madison until 1 p.m., six hours before tip-off.

"Don't want to use the excuse of ‘we've had a lot of trouble getting in here'," Richard said. "We sure didn't handle adversity very well."

Excuse or not, Tech looked lethargic and could not wake up in time to make a game of it.

"We're a lot quicker team than we showed tonight," Richard said. "It didn't look like we were very quick at all. That was disappointing… We just didn't show much moxy out there."

Wisconsin, on the other hand, was crisp despite playing for the first time in 13 days. The Badgers shot 53 percent and out-rebounded Tech 44-33.

The time off did wonders for Butch, who had struggled in several games prior to the break while playing through a leg injury.

"I think that two-week break just helped everything out just to get away from the game a little bit and just come back and practice hard, and work out the little things that weren't working so well," Butch said.

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