So when Cyrus Tate made an uncontested layup to erase Wisconsin's six-point halftime lead, the head coach knew that a timeout was in order with 17 minutes remaining.
"We just looked like we were out-of-sync with our feet and I wanted to probe with players to find out what we were missing," said Ryan. "Sometimes you have to get to bench to see things that are going on on the floor."
The message the veteran head coach sent was a subtle one, but the results he was looking for were soundly delivered.
Punctuated by a Brian Butch layup four minutes later, the Badgers (12-2, 2-0) broke free of the Hawkeyes (7-8, 0-2) with an 11-1 run and kept the visitors at an arm's length the rest of the afternoon, earning a hard fought 64-51 conference victory.
Everything Wisconsin was not doing in the first half was improved upon in the game's last 17-plus minutes. The Badgers consistently touched the post, drew more fouls cutting to the basket, were aggressive on the defensive glass and shot 55 percent from the field in the second half.
The end result was Wisconsin building a second-half lead to as big as 15 points, shooting an efficient 70 percent (19-of-27) from the free throw line and committed only seven turnovers, the Badgers fewest miscues in the past seven games.
"With the type of game that it was, with a lot of bodies flying and guys trying to get good angles, we were stronger with the ball than we have been in some games," Ryan said. "If you are only shooting 41 percent, you can't have many turnovers."
Not only did Butch punctuate the decisive 11-1 Wisconsin run, but the senior center had his best performance since the season opener. Leading all scores with 22, Butch shot an effective 7-of-12 from the floor, including 8-of-11 from the free throw line, and scored 13 of his 22 points in the second half.
"We'll go to him anytime," said Ryan of Butch. "In some games, he is the one who is in the right spot or takes advantage of a match up. You still have to come away with something on your touches and he did that today."
The Badgers also got scoring output from junior Joe Krabbenhoft and senior Michael Flowers, who added 12 and 10 points, respectively. According to Butch, the number of weapons that opponents are forced to defend against Wisconsin makes its playmakers open for easy baskets.
"We have a lot of great shooters on this team," Butch said. "You can't come off (defending) a Jason Bohannon or a Jon Leuer. There are some things like that where you can't do it, which gives me more room to work (in the post)."
Returning to the starting lineup for the first time since spraining his right ankle the day before the Texas game, sophomore Trevon Hughes contributed six points in 33 minutes Saturday, adding three steals, two assists to just one turnover, tying his season low.
"Every single one of us would agree that having Trevon out there adds a whole other dimension to our game," junior Joe Krabbenhoft said. "He runs the show out there. It's nice to have our floor general out there again."
Wisconsin used its size and spacing to get ahead of an undermanned and foul-laden Iowa team. Only dressing 10 players, Iowa was forced to routinely foul the Badgers, as the Hawkeyes had trouble defending the post and preventing the Badgers from getting solid looks at the basket.
For the game, Iowa committed 27 personal fouls with each Hawkeye committing at least two.
"Wisconsin has terrific spacing, are skilled, efficient and are unselfish," Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter said. "We were behind plays a lot and that caused us to foul. We ran into a really good team and a tough system to play against."
The victory over Iowa ends a eight-day, three-game swing for the Badgers that took them from Austin, Texas, to Ann Arbor, Michigan and back to Madison. With three wins in their back pocket and five days off before hosting Illinois, Ryan could not be happier how the Badgers have started their second season.
"They come to work every time," Ryan praised. "We get it done in Texas and come back, make sure the players aren't patting themselves on the back, because we're right into conference stuff the next day. This is the second season – the Big Ten season."