January 7, 2009

With career day, UW routs Northwestern

MADISON, Wis. - Jason Bohannon saved his most complete game for arguably his team's most complete performance. Or maybe the two just go hand in hand.

The junior finished with 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting, dished five assists and hauled in six rebounds, all career highs, as Wisconsin coasted to an easy 74-45 win over Northwestern.

"A lot of times when I am scoring other ways," Bohannon, who scored nine of his 20 points from beyond the arc, said. "It's because of our offense and people finding me. It's not just anything personally that I do. It's a team concept."

UW did everything it needed to do as a team to curtail a dangerous Northwestern squad with many scoring threats stemming from its Princeton style offense. The Badgers out rebounded (42-28), out shot (50 percent to 31.4 percent) and compiled more assists than the Wildcats and limited Kevin Coble and Craig Moore to a combined 18 points through its defense.

"I thought that they played as well as they played," Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said following his team's loss. "I wasn't very happy at all just with our defense. I think they shot 50 percent; teams aren't shooting that against us generally."

But on this night, the Badgers did shoot exceptionally well against the Wildcats.

"I thought we touched the post several times and got some good inside-outside looks," UW head coach Bo Ryan explained. "We tried to take away their best looks."

Even though junior point guard Trevon Hughes mustered only eight points, he was generating opportunities for his teammates all night long with his dribble penetration. In the end, he finished with four assists and only one turnover and also logged two steals that led to Badger points.

But as the old adage goes, defense is the key to any good offense and UW excelled on the defensive side of the ball forcing 11 Northwestern turnovers while holding them to 17.6 percent shooting from downtown. A number far too low for a team playing from behind.

"I thought we had one of our best defensive performances of the year," UW sophomore Jon Leuer, who finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals, said. "I felt like anything they tried to do, we had an answer for it, and I was really pleased with that.

"I was really pleased with the effort everyone gave and the hustle plays and everything. I thought we played really well defensively."

After a shaky end to the first half, UW went into the locker room with only a nine-point lead. However a 18-8 run to start the second half blew open the game and essentially forced Northwestern into panic mode.

"Before the second half started I told the guys that they're (Northwestern) right in this game," Marcus Landry, who chipped in 12 points, said. "The first five minutes is key, we really have to pick it up and take it right at them. Coach emphasized that and stressed that in the locker room during halftime and for the most part we came out and we did that."

Every Badger, except for likely redshirt Jared Berggren, logged minutes Wednesday night and 10 of them scored. However, even though the scoreboard suggests otherwise, there is still room for improvement before this team plays Purdue Sunday afternoon.

"I know you will find this hard to believe, but I'll be able to find 20-30 things we did not do well on some of those possessions when we didn't cover well and handle those screens," Ryan said. "When you look at a number our guys did a pretty good job, but there are things to do better."

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