MILWAUKEE — After a slow start that saw No. 15 seed American jump out to an early first-half lead, No. 2 seed Wisconsin settled down, made some shots and got the pro-Badger crowd involved as the Badgers breezed to a 75-35 win on Thursday in the opening Round of 64 West Region game in Milwaukee.
With the nearly-full Bradley Center turned into Kohl Center East on Thursday, the Badgers slowly grew comfortable defending American’s methodical Princeton-style offense and cruised to victory once they started knocking down shots and forcing turnovers.
The Wisconsin (27-7) defense held American (20-13) to 29 percent shooting (11-for-37) — including 15 percent shooting in the second half (3-for-19) — as senior guard Traevon Jackson led the Badgers with 18 points while senior guard Ben Brust added 17 points and sophomore forward Sam Dekker added 11 points.
After jumping out to a 19-13 lead with 8:53 remaining in the first half, the Eagles only mustered 16 points the last 28:53 of the game as American struggled to knock down shots and turnovers became a factor. Wisconsin’s defense forced 17 American turnovers and also tightened up after allowing some easy looks from the Eagle offense off of dribble hand-offs early in the first half.
The Eagles were led by junior guard John Schoof and senior center Tony Wroblicky, as they each finished with 11.
Wisconsin now moves on to face the winner of the No. 7 seed Oregon and No. 10 seed BYU game on Saturday at the Bradley Center.
Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.
The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.
Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.