Against a high-scoring Cal State Fullerton Thursday, UW was able to adjust to the different style of play and lock down on defense once again en route to a 71-56 win.
"I think our non-conference schedule really set us up for [playing different types of teams]", forward Brian Butch said. "It's given us a chance to really go up against different types of offenses."
The Badgers dealt with the Titans offense quite effectively, holding CSF 26 points under its season average of 82 points per game and limiting the Titans to just five points in transition.
Continuing his recent trend of providing the Wisconsin frontcourt with depth and productivity, senior Greg Stiemsma had another solid outing Thursday.
Although playing just eight minutes against Cal State Fullerton, likely due to the fact the Titans were a very small team — with no starters taller than 6-foot-5 — Stiemsma was still a solid contributor.
The senior made the most of his time on the floor, connecting on 3-of-4 field goals and pulling down four rebounds — including two offensive — while also blocking two shots.
"He's been doing that all year, and especially the last two months I think it hit him that this is his senior year and he wanted to step it up," junior forward and Stiemsma roommate Joe Krabbenhoft said. "He's been doing it all year, and he contributes in so many ways."
While two of Stiemsma's baskets came in paint, he also stepped outside and converted on a midrange baseline jumper, a shot that has become a stable in his offensive repertoire.
"I don't know what he's shooting from about 15 feet, but he can knock them down with the best of them," Krabbenhoft said. "Guards, big men, doesn't matter. He can really shoot that midrange jumper."
As in Wisconsin's Big Ten semifinal game against Michigan State, the Badgers drew far more fouls than they committed against Cal State Fullerton.
The Titans had one player — forward Frank Robinson — disqualified with five fouls and two more players finish the game with four. For the game, Cal State Fullerton was whistled for 25 fouls, as compared to Wisconsin's 11.
Truth is, with how aggressive the Titans were playing defense — chesting up players with the ball and reaching in to try and poke the ball loose — they could have conceivably been called for even more.
"That's how we play," Robinson said. "We're an aggressive team. It's hard to change that when you're in the flow of the game."
The foul discrepancy created even more problems for the underdog Titans. As they fell further behind, Cal State Fullerton needed to become more aggressive defensively to try and create easy offensive opportunities. That just led to more fouls.
"We had a hard time, because of that foul situation," Cal State Fullerton head coach Bob Burton said. "We wanted to pressure and every time we seemed to get close there was a foul. … It really had our rotation kind of fouled up because we're really not that deep of a team."