Opening their Big Ten title defense in the same arena the magical journey started last year, the elder Badgers made sure that this lead against a ranked Michigan team wouldn't escape.
Senior Marcus Landry made up for his poor play against Texas by scoring 16 points and junior Trevon Hughes scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half to lead UW to a 73-61 conference-opening victory against No.23 Michigan Wednesday afternoon.
After being plagued with foul trouble and scoring just eight points in a season-low 22 minutes, Landry started hot for Wisconsin (10-3, 1-0 Big Ten), hitting his first four shots for a quick 10 points that helped him reach double digits for the eighth time this season.
A significant stat, as Wisconsin is now 30-1 all time when Landry reaches double digits in scoring, including 8-0 this season.
Wisconsin finished shooting 58.7 percent from the floor, its highest percentage since shooting 59.3 percent against SIU-Edwardsville, and Landry was a big part of that, finishing 7-for-10 from the floor.
"He was getting pretty good looks," Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said of Landry. "We were doing some things offensively against the zone that put him in position to score. Landry was the recipient of some pretty good passes and pretty good looks from his teammates."
While Landry cooled off in the second half because of foul trouble, Hughes picked up slack. As soon as the Wolverines (10-3, 0-1 Big Ten) cut UW's 11-point halftime lead down to seven with 17:40 left, Hughes caught fire during a two minute stretch, scoring 10 straight points to push Wisconsin's lead to 15. Michigan didn't get closer to nine the rest of the way.
"(Trevon) was doing some good things and was able to attack and finish," Ryan said. "Obviously, if you don't have players that can shoot the ball away from that, then they are going to put more pressure on him. Pop knows that he has some teammates that can hit the shots too. It just so happens that he created his today."
"Trevon was a great general out there today," Joe Krabbenhoft added. "He did as good of a job as he's done of taking care of the ball and running the show. He ran the show like a veteran point guard." For the second year in a row, the Badgers got solid contributions from Jon Leuer. After scoring a career-high 25 points in Ann Arbor last year, Leuer made his first three shots and finished with 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting off the bench. Wisconsin also got nine points from Joe Krabbenhoft and seven from Jason Bohannon and Robert Wilson.
Despite allowing freshman Zack Novak (averaging only 5.8 ppg) to score a career-high 20 points and junior DeShawn Sims adding 14 points, UW limited sophomore Manny Harris, the Big Ten's leading scorer at 19.8 ppg, to just nine points on 3-of-13 shooting.
"He's been so consistent for them that when you look at the breakdown, he just missed some shots," Ryan said. "They didn't hit their shots and we hit ours. There's more to it that that, but when they made their mini runs, we were able to absorb that because we were playing with a cushion."
"We wanted to get that toughness back," Krabbenhoft added about UW's team defense. "Now, it was just one game, that doesn't make your season or anything like that, but Michigan's a very good team."
Wisconsin's second-half cushion was in large part to its dominant first half, where Wisconsin shot 65.2 percent (15-for-23) and rarely saw its lead dip below double digits, as the Badgers held Michigan go only 38.5 percent shooting from the floor in the first half and 39.2 percent for the game.
Shooting above 80 percent late into the first half, Wisconsin, averaging 66 points per game, put up a season-high 42 first-half points, hit nine of its first 10 shots, got assists on seven of those buckets and rotated 10 players in during the first half, allowing Wisconsin to be plenty fresh for the second half.
"We executed, we got it done and Michigan got on its heels a little bit," Ryan said. "We made that statement and forced them to react. It's a process. We still have a long way to go. This is one night where we were able to get that help."