Playing four consecutive halves of sub-par Wisconsin basketball by not creating turnovers, not diving for loose balls and not finding the shooting touch, the Badgers succumbed in the second half at Marquette, struggled to dispatch a 2-5 Idaho State team and barely had a leg up over in-state rival UW-Green Bay Saturday night.
After halftime, everything seemed to finally click into place.
With the Badgers having the next seven days off to prepare for finals, Wisconsin passed its first assignment of getting back into its system by driving into the lane, pounding the ball into the post and not settling for the three-point shot.
The result was four Badgers in double figures, 52.1 percent shooting from the field as a team and 26 points in the paint, all factors that led to a dominant 20-point victory over the Phoenix of UW-Green Bay.
Wisconsin (8-2) got a team-high and career-high 15 points from senior Joe Krabbenhoft, who scored 11 of his 15 in the second half, seven of which coming during a decisive 12-0 UW run midway through the second half that gave UW a comfortable 17-point lead.
"He let it come to him for the most part, let it come to him and he was strong with the ball," said UW head coach Bo Ryan of Krabbenhoft. "That's how Joe can play."
Adding to the scoring was 14 points from senior Marcus Landry and 12 points from Jason Bohannon, who is slowly digging out of his early season shooting woes. Scoring double digits in three of his last four games, Bohannon is averaging over 10 points a game and has raised his shooting percentage nearly a tenth of a point in the last 13 days.
"I am just trying to go out there and play and make something happen," Bohannon said. "That's how everyone on this team is trying to play and that's the kind of player Coach (Ryan) likes to have is when people treat every possession like it's there last."
Not to be forgotten, sophomore Tim Jarmusz was effective from all parts, going 3-for-4 from the floor, 2-for-3 from three-point range and 3-for-4 from the line, scoring a career-high 11 points. Ask Green Bay head coach Tod Kowalczyk who the player of the game was, however, and he had a different nominee.
"In my opinion, the player of the game was Trevon Hughes because he got into the paint and made a lot of plays against us," he said. "Because of that, we were in a lot of help situations and we weren't able to stay in front of the dribble."
UW had shot at least 18 three-pointers in its last three games and shot less than 30 percent in the last two, a main factor that led to a poor point per possession statistic and nail-biting games.
The result against the Phoenix, thanks to Hughes' four assists, was plenty of penetration into the post, which lead to easy buckets from the post and wide-open looks from the perimeter, where the Badgers shot 50 percent (5-for-10) on the night.
"Coach really emphasizes getting into the post," Landry said. "He always says good things happen when you touch the post. We were unselfish and tried to kick (the ball) out if we didn't have any looks. You have a higher percentage kicking the ball outside from the inside. It's something we stress."
It was a point that was stressed since Wednesday morning. After the Badgers played, according to Landry, 'a zero' in their two-point victory Tuesday night, Wisconsin was more efficient in its shooting, rebounding and overall decision making, making Landry's UW grade much higher heading into finals week.
"We did some good things today," he said. "We were just hungry and did some very productive things. We (graded) just a little bit higher than the last performance and on my scale, we're going to keep improving."