The first 20 minutes confirmed those fears for Badger Nation.
Once a tight-knit game midway through the first half, Gonzaga used a 13-1 run over a 5 minute, 12 second span to push the Bulldogs to the EA Sports Maui Invitational finals with a 74-61 victory over Wisconsin at the Lahaina Civic Center
"They've got leaders out there, guys that know what to do in situations," UW said UW coach Bo Ryan of the Badgers, who will play 21st-ranked Maryland in the third place game at 3:30 central Wednesday. "I think we do to, but we weren't the ones playing with the lead. We were playing catch up and we didn't do a good enough job of that."
After the Badgers (3-1) dictated the tempo in the first half against Arizona Monday, Wisconsin came out firing in first 10 minutes, making eight of its first 10 shots until finally cooling off.
The problem was Gonzaga (4-1) never cooled down … ever on Tuesday. With the Bulldogs holding a 19-18 lead, Gonzaga fired off a 13-1 run, as its upperclassmen backcourt took over with six points from junior Steven Gray and three from senior Matt Bouldin.
When it was all said in done, the duo scored a combined 33 points, much better than UW's backcourt, as senior Trevon Hughes (10 points) and Jason Bohannon (seven points, 1-of-7 three-point range) struggled to find a rhythm against the athletic Bulldogs.
"We wanted him to see a bunch of eyes," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of Hughes, who scored 24 against Arizona. "He loves to slip into the gab, he's very deceptive, he's got a good first step, he's got a hesitation to get you to freeze in and get by your hips. We wanted him to be looking at a bunch of eyes at all times. Instead of seeing lanes, he was seeing a bunch of blue jerseys."
Gonzaga bested Wisconsin's first-half shooting percentage of 42.9 (12-of-28) shooting by making 50 percent (15-of-30) of its shots in the first 20 minutes, proving to be a retrospective knockout blow.
After UW limited its first three opponents to 49.6 points per game, the Bulldogs finished with four players in double figures, including 18 points and six rebounds from Bouldin, en route to scoring the most points against a UW opponent in the last 15 games.
"I just think they executed better on offense than we did today," Hughes said.
"That really helped … going against a team that had better legs than us in the first," Ryan said of Taylor picking up Hughes and Bohannon. "They were going to need some help and Jordan did that."
"I tried to take some pressure off the guards," Leuer added. "Trevon and JBo played a lot of minutes last night and I was on the bench for most of it. I was just trying to establish more of a post presence."
The Badgers had a hard time establishing that presence with Robert Sacre (13 points) and Elias Harris (12 points) getting their way under the basket. Not only did Gonzaga out rebound Wisconsin, 38-31, the Bulldogs scored 42 points in the paint to UW's 11. For good measure, Gonzaga registered 11 fast-break points to zero for Wisconsin.
"They were getting it to the rim, they were getting angles on us and our help on dribble penetration wasn't as good as it was the night before," Ryan said. "You can't do it one night and think there's going to be a difference the next night. We just did not shut the rim off as we could have."
Wisconsin tried to claw back into the game in the second half during a mini 8-2 run that cut the deficit to 60-54 with 7:45 minutes left, but an 11-2 run over the next 4:23, spurred by five missed shots and one turnover the UW put the game in hand for Gonzaga, who earned the program's first win against the Badgers.
"Wouldn't you like to have some of those wide-open threes that we had?" Ryan questioned, as the Badgers shot 39 percent overall and 27.3 percent from three. "I was shocked. We got some very, very good looks. If we hit a couple of those in that stretch, then it gets real interesting and you never know what might happen."