Staying Opportunistic

Contributing everything to the Badgers in the early weeks of the season except scoring, Wisconsin senior Joe Krabbenhoft scores 12 points, including nine in the first half, to help lead Wisconsin over UW-Milwaukee Saturday afternoon.

MADISON – Make no mistake about it, Joe Krabbenhoft doesn't want to be known as the team's main scoring catalyst, let alone as a scoring threat.

Preferring to do the team's dirty work by grabbing rebounds, diving on the floor for loose balls and do all the little things to make sure the University of Wisconsin ends up on the left-hand side of the win column are things that rank much higher for the senior than putting the ball in the basket.

But when his team needed an offensive push in the first half, Krabbenhoft begrudgingly obliged.

Averaging only 5.8 points in UW's first five games, Krabbenhoft scored a season-high 12 points, including a vital nine first-half points, and added 10 rebounds to help No.25 Wisconsin pull away in the second half, beating in-state rival Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 67-46, Saturday afternoon.

"We did a great job playing Wisconsin basketball," Krabbenhoft said. "We wanted to go out there, play hard and do those (little) things and the score will take care of itself, which it did."

Krabbenhoft, who fell one point short of his career high, had been providing for Wisconsin (5-1) in a variety of areas in the early weeks of the season, except on the scoreboard. Leading the team in both assists and rebounds by a solid margin, Krabbenhoft season high entering the game was a quiet seven points.

But with his teammates starting the game 3-for-10 shooting and struggling from the floor, Krabbenhoft picked up the void, scoring nine of his 12 points in the game's first 10 minutes and all as opportune times.

All four of his first-half baskets came with Wisconsin either tied or trailing the Panthers, a team that had diligently battled Marquette throughout the first half before losing by 20 last week, and all of points came with his size advantage in the paint. For the game, the Badgers out scored the Panthers 26-18 under the basket with Krabbenhoft doing most of the dirty work early on.

"My teammates did a great job of finding me down low," said Krabbenhoft, who also had three assists with no turnovers. "I had a height advantage of some of the guys guarding me and they were just easy buckets. I tried to get my hands on some offensive rebounds that went my way and I did my best job of trying to finish."

UW-Milwaukee (3-4) didn't go away though, which was evident by the Panthers being within three points at 26-23 with four minutes, 40 seconds left in the first half. From there, however, it was all Wisconsin, as the Badgers closed the first half on an 11-4 run and kept their foot on the accelerator after halftime, rattling off a 23-8 run to open the half that silenced the Panthers.

"The first 17 minutes of the game, we seemed to be doing the things that followed the game plan," said UW-Milwaukee head coach and former assistant Rob Jeter, as the Panthers fall to 1-25 lifetime against the Badgers. "That didn't carry over into the last three minutes of the first half and into the second half where the dry spell was a big part of the lack of success tonight."

It didn't help that the Panthers couldn't counter the Wisconsin snowball effect without one of their best players. Senior guard Ricky Franklin, who was averaging 11.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game this season, was indefinitely suspended after he was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated Thursday morning.

"It's just a distraction we don't need," Jeter said.

After 22 turnovers turned into 31-Connecticut points five days ago, costing UW a chance at beating the country's second-ranked team, the Badgers cleaned up their act.

UW-Milwaukee scored only four points off six Wisconsin turnovers while the Badgers turned 11 UW-Milwaukee turnovers into 13 points.

"You don't want to have turnovers. Turnovers lead to other baskets for the other team," senior Marcus Landry said. "That's something we try to focus on and make sure that we are handling the ball and making good decisions."

Krabbenhoft wasn't alone in the scoring department for the Badgers, as junior Trevon Hughes scored a game-high 16 points and Landry chipped in with 12. The three leaders on Wisconsin scored 40 of UW's 67 points and shot 15-for-25 (60 percent).

But the key to victory for Wisconsin today was a 15-minute stretch from the last five minutes of the first half through the first 10 minutes of the second half where the Badgers clamped down defensively, out scoring the Panthers 28-7 and forcing seven turnovers, eliminated all doubts of another in-state victory for Wisconsin.


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