Arizona dominated this NCAA Tournament first-round game at the Wachovia Center here in every way imaginable, building a quick 24-point lead on its way to running the Badgers right out of the 2005-06 season.
"That was our worst nightmare," Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said.
Fast and furious is not the way the Badgers drew up Friday's game. Fast and furious is fine and dandy if you are making shots, and if you have the athletes to contend with a team that is much more accustomed to a frenetic pace. Wisconsin — not a particularly deep team — was cold and clanging Friday, while its opponent was anything but.
"Basketball is basketball," freshman Joe Krabbenhoft said. "We knew what they were going to do. We just didn't execute. That's just plain and simple. Coaches will do a better job than players of breaking it down and telling us what happened out there – Xs and Os. Coming from a player? We just didn't execute the way we wanted to."
When it was all said and done the Badgers shot a decent 43 percent, and a solid 47 percent in the second half. But they missed their first three shots and were a chilly 3 of 11 from the floor with 11:52 left in the first half.
Arizona made nine of its first 11 shots and leapt out to leads of 8-0, then 14-3, then 24-8, then 35-11. The Cats hit 59 percent of their shots in each half.
"The thing that we didn't want to have happen happened," Ryan said. "You can't play from behind. It's very difficult. We talked about early just working our possessions, trying to go possession for possession. We are not athletic or quick enough to be able to play from behind and these guys, the players know it, the coaching staff knows it."
"The positive thing is that hopefully we don't ever play another 10 minutes like that again," sophomore Brian Butch said. "So hopefully we get that out of the way and we'll be able to come out next time hopefully and play our tails off."
Next time for the Badgers, though, is an eight-month wait until November.
"I like the way our guys competed all year so it doesn't change when you end the season," Ryan said. "But it would have been nice to (have) been able to, early, not let them stretch it and make us have to play from behind. We just don't have the depth and the quickness to be able to do that."
It appeared that the Badgers might get a respite when Hassan Adams picked up his second foul just 4:09 into the game. No such luck. Arizona was ahead 14-3 at that juncture. As Adams returned with 12:33 left in the half, the Wildcats went up 24-8 on Radenovic's two free throws.
"The way we practice (we) try to not get in that kind of hole," Ryan said. "We got put in one."
Adams was not nearly the Badgers' primary concern early in the game. Wisconsin's lack of defense was troublesome, leaving the Wildcats all sorts of open looks. UW had two many early turnovers: five in the first 11:50. All those bricks and miscues led to a blistering UA transition game. The Wildcats scored 21 points in transition in the first half.
"It wasn't them, it was us that made mistakes," Butch said. "We didn't get back on defense. We didn't do the things we needed to do."
Essentially, UW did everything it wanted to avoid. Arizona dictated the flow of the game on both ends of the floor. The Wildcats got the Badgers into a running game and flustered them offensively and defensively.
"We just needed to try and take control and stop the ball and we didn't," Butch said. "That's the biggest thing. We never did what we were supposed to do in this game and that's what happens — you lose by 20."
Arizona had out-scored the Badgers 26-6 in the paint in the first half. So at halftime UW's coaches stressed the importance of forcing UA to shoot jump shots. The Wildcats had no problem obliging.
"It was as if they heard us say it," Ryan said. "So, OK, we'll go out and hit jumpers. But boy did they play well and we let some things get away from us that we can't have back right now."
"It just seemed they were so relaxed on their jump shots in the second half," Ryan said.
It is pretty easy to relax when you are never really challenged.
The Badgers nearly made it a close contest with a late first-half rally.
Wisconsin used 7-0 and 8-0 spurts to close Arizona's mountainous lead to a manageable 37-26 deficit. But Radenovic drove across the paint and converted a running layup, Rogers drilled a triple and Mustafa Shakur made an acrobatic spinning layup in transition to push the margin back out to 44-26. Wisconsin, though, closed the first half with an 8-2 run to make it 46-34 at halftime.
UA's 11-2 run to start the second half, however, ended any thoughts of a Badger comeback. After falling behind 57-36, UW never got closer than a 14-point disadvantage.
The second half was Adams' time to shine. He scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the final 20 minutes.
Shakur, UA's point guard, contributed a dominant all-around performance: 17 points, nine assists, two steals and just two turnovers. His play was key in establishing tempo and his 3 of 5 three-point shooting performance helped keep the Badgers at more than arm's length throughout.
Arizona's 94 points was the most UW has allowed in its past 349 games, dating back to a 97-72 loss at Michigan State to end the 1994-95 season.