Tip off was approximately 1:50 p.m. central time but the Wisconsin Badgers didn't show up until about 10 minutes later as they went scoreless on until the 17-minute mark and found themselves down by as many as 12 points in the opening minutes of the game. The Badgers would have trouble guarding Cornell senior forward Ryan Wittman, who hit on his first three shots and finished the first half with 14 points.
"Yeah, you know, obviously the start is an important part to the game," Wittman said.
Wisconsin (24-9) seemed to catch their breath after the first three minutes as Friday's hero, junior forward Jon Leuer scored 12 straight points to pull the Badgers within six. Wisconsin would pull to within three points as senior guard Jason Bohannon scored on two straight possessions. Later in the half, senior guard Trevon Hughes missed an open layup that would have brought the Badgers within two.
"They certainly got their confidence going early from the getgo, and it's tough to fight back from that," said a teary-eyed Bohannon, who broke his scoring skid by scoring 18 points.
The Ivy Leaguers, who beat back-to-back ranked opponents for the first time in school history, would take advantage of that lucky break and they would extend the lead to a dozen at the break as Cornell (29-4) ran off 11 points in the final three and a half minutes.
"They found different ways to score on us, and it's tough when you shoot 52 percent in the first half and you're still down 12," Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said.
The Badgers opened the second half with a pair of three-point shots from Jordan Taylor and Bohannon, but Cornell would have an answer, just as they did all day. Point guard Louis Dale canned a three, and then scored three the unconventional way as the Big Red built the lead back into double digits and it would stay that way.
Dale hit 10 of 17 field-goal attempts and scored a game-high 26 points to lead four Cornell players in double figures.
"That's how good they are," Ryan said of Cornell. "They can beat you in so many different ways."
Wittman did his best Reggie Miller imitation as he made open shots, shots with a hand in his face, and even stepped back to can shots from longer than 30 feet on his way to a 24-point performance on 10 for 15 shooting. Dale scored 18 of his points in the second half to help Cornell shoot an amazing 61.1 percent from the field and turned the ball over just eight times.
"The number of points has never bothered me in this type of a game," Ryan said.
Jon Leuer did his best to keep the Badgers in the game as he scored 14 of the team's 31 points in the first half and finished with a team-high 23 points on eight of 12 shooting.
"I was just doing whatever I could to help my team win," Leuer said after the game. "I knew we would have guys eventually step it up, and they did, but Cornell just kept—stuck to their game plan, and their guys just executed in every phase of the game."
In the end, Cornell was quicker to loose balls, took charges on defense and made all the big shots, as they ended the Badgers run in the 2010 NCAA Tourney and the careers of Bohannon and Hughes, who fouled out after a frustrating game (10 points, six turnovers).
"I saw guys get better, guys bond in the offseason and worked at some things," Ryan said. "They handled the tough schedule. They won a couple neutral games against some tough teams. They beat a team like Duke that's here now, and did a lot of other good things to put themselves in the position in the Big Ten.
"I just look always at the end at the picture and this crew did a lot of good things, but there's going to be a lot of disappointment out there for a lot of teams."