Badgers put Bulldogs on a Tight Leash

With their 58-point victory, Wisconsin closes out the non-conference home schedule undefeated and pushes the Badgers to their best start in 78 years.

MADISON – Kammron Taylor had been on the brink of having a dynamic game all season long. Failing to score above 20 points in the Badgers previous 11 games, Taylor had put together some solid stretches of basketball in between, but never could compile a complete performance.

With some sibling rivalry added to the mix on Wednesday night, Taylor became the playmaker.

Playing against his older brother's alma mater, Taylor orchestrated a Wisconsin masterpiece against Gardner-Webb (2-9) by scoring 13 first-half points, leading the Badgers (13-1) to a dominating close of the first half and a 98-40 blowout victory.

While he didn't eclipse the 20-point barrier, Taylor helped Wisconsin record season highs in points, field goals (35), three-pointers made (12), three-point percentage (60 percent), free throw percentage (84) and assists (21). In addition to his 13 points, Taylor had an assist to turnover ratio of 5 to 1, his best output of the season.

"We're getting better and we're growing as a team," Taylor said.

"It was cool to play against his old school," he added. "When we have sit downs, I can brag about it a little bit."

Taylor's teammates weren't too shabby either during the first-half stretch.

Leading 9-8 at 11:32 of the first half, Wisconsin went on a 43-11 scoring spurge that collared the Runnin' Bulldogs. With a combination of Jason Bohannon three-pointers and Joe Krabbenhoft jumpers, the Badgers finished by scoring a point on 19 of their last 22 first-half possessions, shooting 72.7 percent down the stretch. For the game, Wisconsin shot 59 percent, their second-highest total of the year.

"We were trying to do the same thing for 40 minutes," head coach Bo Ryan said. "Basketball is a game of runs and you hope you're the ones making them."

In addition to their scoring binge, Wisconsin's defense overmatched Gardner-Webb's perimeter-based offense, forcing the Bulldogs to commit 14 first-half turnovers that led to 21 Badger points. For the game, Wisconsin forced 28 Bulldog turnovers while committing only nine.

"Wisconsin has got a chance to be special," Gardner-Webb head coach Rick Scruggs said. "They don't turn the ball over very much and when we're not hitting shots, we lose a lot of confidence. They got into a better flow after the first 10 minutes of the game. [They were] fun to watch."

Junior Brian Butch registered his third double-double of the year, leading all scores with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Greg Stiemsma backed up a solid performance against Pacific by scoring a career high in points (8) and field goals (4). In addition, Stiemsma dished out two assists and one block in 10 minutes on the court.

"Greg found his spots against their zone, was tough on the glass and had some really good moments. He was pretty steady," Ryan said.

The only boos from the crowd came with the clock winding down in the second half and Wisconsin needing two points to score 100 for the first time since 1995. Much to the dismay of the 17,190 fans in attendance, Trevon Hughes dribbled out the remaining seconds near the Wisconsin bench.

"I didn't know of any steakhouse giving away free steaks or anything to the coaching staff if we got 100," Ryan said. "I didn't even know what the score was."

The win puts the Badgers at 13-1, their best mark since the 1928-29 season. That year, the Badgers started 14-1 and were co-Big Ten conference champions with a 15-2 overall record. With their current mark, the record gives the Wisconsin players something to reflect upon in the future and be proud of.

"It's great for our guys [because] they have worked hard and it's a reflection of that," Ryan said. "But the guys will tell you that we have to go to Georgia in a few days. [The record] will be something these guys will have to look at and reflect on [some day]. I'm proud to be associated with a group that has done that."

Up Next

Wisconsin wraps up their non-conference season when they travel to Athens, Georgia and take on the Georgia Bulldogs (8-2) on New Year's Eve afternoon. Georgia is coming off a nine-point loss at in-state rival Georgia Tech and will play No.25 Clemson on Thursday before hosting Wisconsin.

Georgia is undefeated at home this season, including a 13-point victory over Gonzaga. The Bulldogs have three players averaging in double figures and are lead by the 17.2 ppg of sophomore Mike Mercer.

The Badgers are 0-2 lifetime against Georgia, losing two neutral site games 91-89 in 1974 and 65-64 in 1989.

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