The Badgers continued to shoot the ball well in the second half, making 11 of 20 shots (55 percent) before clearing their bench with a 68-50 lead and 2:13 on the clock.
Wisconsin also cut down on its turnovers, committing five in the second half after eight first-half giveaways.
The key, the Badgers' said, was to be patient against Northwestern's zone defenses. The Wildcats flustered UW at times with a full-court trap and also extended their 1-3-1 to a half-court trap.
Said Ryan: "Sometimes we have to remember that it isn't all going to happen in five seconds, it can happen in 18 seconds on a possession…
"If you don't show some patience on Northwestern, they'll just eat you up. You'll be scratching your head going, ‘What the heck happened?'
"We just tried to be patient," said senior forward Ray Nixon, who scored 13 points. "Coach told us that they were going to be aggressive and they were going to keep us up high, so to be patient in the offense and work the ball around."
Point guard Kammron Taylor committed three turnovers in the first half and scored just four points on 1 of 5 shooting. In the second half, however, he was 3-for-6 for 10 points, with only one turnover.
"I think in the beginning we got a little bit too anxious and that forced us into some bad turnovers that we didn't like," Taylor said. "As the game went on everybody settled down, starting with me."
Turnovers all around
Northwestern had its own, more acute, turnover woes. The Wildcats surrendered the ball a season-high 19 times.
"I like the way our defense got some," Ryan said. "Our defense got some deflections, made some good rotations, took some charges…. In that kind of a game, when there's bodies flying, and different passing lanes being shut down and people gambling, you're going to have turnovers."
Tucker takes it the distance
With 58 seconds left before halftime, Tim Doyle looked to in-bound the basketball for Northwestern with Wisconsin forward Alando Tucker defending him along the baseline. Tucker picked Doyle's pass clean out of the air, turned and raced down the court, taking it the full 94 feet for an easy layup.
Tucker took off so quickly, he seemingly caught the other nine players on the floor flat-footed. He out-distanced two Wildcats to get to the hoop.
"I caught it and I just quickly looked at some of the guys' faces and I don't think they were ready," Tucker said. "They didn't think I was going to take off like that. I just wanted to get it down and guys stopped running."