Instead, Wisconsin was struck with a surprisingly close game Tuesday night versus the Idaho State Bengals. And while the Badgers pulled out a 60-58 win, they were far from pleased with their performance.
"I'm not satisfied with our performance, I don't think our team is as a whole if I can speak for them," said Marcus Landry, who rated Wisconsin's performance as a zero on a scale of 1-to-10. "We need to get better, we need to improve. There's no excuses for the way we played."
Nevertheless, the Badgers were able to stick it out, despite every run the Bengals had in them.
After only trailing by two at halftime, Idaho State hung close throughout the start of the second half. A lay-up by Demetrius Monroe put the Bengals within one point at 41-40.
And while the Badgers would turn around and go on a 9-0 run, the Bengals would storm right back to make the game interesting down the stretch.
But it's not like the Badgers helped themselves put the game away, either. Wisconsin missed some key free throws and didn't get to the line as often until the end when Idaho State was forced to foul.
"If we make our free throws, you're not talking about a close game," said UW head coach Bo Ryan, as the Badgers shot 15-of-22 from the free throw line. "We had the game under the control in a position where we like to have it, but didn't finish it the way I like to have it."
After Trevon Hughes made one of two free throws with 1:40 remaining to put Wisconsin up 54-47, Idaho State scored on back-to-back possessions to quickly cut the lead down to 54-51 with 42 seconds left on the clock.
Despite the Badgers hovering around a four-to-five point lead for much of the final minute – benefiting from frequent trips to the free throw line – the Bengals continued to answer back.
With just two seconds remaining, Idaho State's Matt Stucki nailed a 3-pointer to make it 59-58 and bring the Kohl Center fans to their feet. Kal Bay would quickly foul Trevon Hughes, who made the first and committed a lane violation on the second, giving the Bengals one last heeve with 2.1 seconds left.
However, Landry broke up the halfcourt pass to Devidias Busma, who struggled to get up a 3-point attempt before time expired.
"I think it was tipped a couple times," Idaho State head coach Joe O'Brien said. "It wasn't a very well executed play, but we could've caught it clean and maybe have gotten a shot."
While the Badgers struggled shooting the ball, finishing with a 37.7 shooting percentage, the thing that helped them grind though the game the most was getting the ball in the post against the Bengal's zone defense, as well as getting second chance points (15).
"Against a zone, that's what you got to do," Joe Krabbenhoft said. " … There's going to be some misses, so you got to clean those up."
Jason Bohannon led all scorers with 18 points, scoring on four 3-pointers and six three free throws. Landry chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Jon Leuer added 11 points off the bench.