MADISON, Wis. (AP) Score 11 points. Grab eight rebounds. Help sing the national anthem.
Vitto Brown did a little bit of everything Friday night as No. 14 Wisconsin breezed by Florida A&M 90-37.
Brown, who performed the “Star Spangled Banner” with his family’s singing group “Shades of Brown” before the game, was averaging less than four rebounds a game coming in.
“I was just tired of being 6-8 and in good shape and not getting any rebounds,” Brown said. “I wanted to make my mark on the game.”
The game came after an eight-day layoff for the Badgers (11-2) as they finished final exams. But they showed few signs of rust.
They led Florida A&M (2-11) by 10 points 5 minutes into the game, pushed the lead to 20 with less than 4 minutes to go in the half and had it up to 38 midway through the second half before coach Greg Gard pulled all of his starters.
Reserve D’Mitrik Trice scored 14 points, while Bronson Koenig, who added eight points, played 22 minutes, the most of any starter.
Gard noted such lopsided games can often get sloppy, but the Badgers never lost focus. Even though Gard went deep into his bench with 15 players seeing time, Wisconsin’s shooting percentage actually went up in the second half. The Badgers finished 34 of 65, including 12 of 27 from beyond the 3-point line.
“That’s a testament to them that they stayed disciplined and focused on the things that make us good,” Gard said.
Florida A&M, playing on consecutive nights, struggled on offense, shooting just 26 percent.
Elijah Mays and Brendon Myles led Florida A&M with nine points each. The Panthers were without leading scorer Desmond Williams, who is averaging 16 points a game. Coach Byron Samuels said Williams was injured Thursday night.
“Sometimes we look at reasons to make excuses for why something did or didn’t happen,” he said. “I’m not in that category.”
Florida A&M: The Panthers have lost 10 straight, and their only wins on the season are against non-Division I programs. No one expected this to be pretty.
Wisconsin: Finals are done. The non-conference schedule is done. Bring on the Big Ten.
GARD THE GRADER
Gard said he would give his team somewhere between a B and a B-minus for its performance over the nonconference schedule, which includes wins over five teams in the top 100 of Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. It also, though, includes a 15-point loss to North Carolina in the Maui Invitational. Gard noted the “mountain gets a lot steeper” with Big Ten play coming up. “We’ve got room to get better. We have to get better,” Gard said.
ROAD, UNFRIENDLY ROAD
It’s nothing new for teams from smaller conferences to hit the road a lot in November and December. Still, Florida A&M had rare road games on consecutive nights. They lost to Samford by 20 in Alabama on Thursday night before heading to Wisconsin. Samuels noted players are used to multiple games in a day thanks to AAU and several straight days during conference tournaments. “They’re young, they’re strong, they’re in the best shapes of their lives. They should be able to play back-to-back nights,” he said.
Florida A&M: The Rattlers travel to Howard on Jan. 4 for their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opener.
Wisconsin: The Badgers open Big Ten play at home Tuesday against Rutgers.