The Wisconsin men's basketball team returned home and earned a statement victory over NC State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, helping the Big Ten to its second consecutive win in the annual competition.
The convincing 87-48 win over the Wolfpack helped erase the negativity of last weekend's offensive struggles in Orlando.
Though they weren't alone, the Badgers struggled mightily from the field in Orlando, shooting under 40 percent from the field and under 30 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
Returning home for the first time in more than two weeks, Wisconsin was a different team on Wednesday, shooting at a 50 percent clip (28 for 56) including 55 percent (11 for 20) from downtown.
"I think a lot of guys got into the gym, got some jump shots up," sophomore forward Mike Bruesewitz said. "Plus it's always nice to be back home."
"[We] just ran good offense, got good looks, and knocked them down," head coach Bo Ryan said. "You have to believe that when you shoot, the next one is going to go in."
Although much of the improvement was simply the result of Wisconsin having one a when seemingly every shot falls, there was a definite increase in the aggression with which the Badgers played on the offensive end, especially from the guards.
"I think everybody is being more aggressive as a whole," junior point guard Jordan Taylor said. "I was trying to get in the lane more, open up for other people."
That renewed aggression, not only offensively but on the defensive end as well, allowed UW to turn what was a tight contest early on into a halftime blow-out. The Badgers held NC State scoreless in the last 6:36 of the first half and extended a ten-point lead into a 44-21 laugher at the intermission.
The NC State scoring drought would extend into the second half, eventually coming to a close on a Scott Wood steal and lay-up that ended a 23-0 UW run over 10:12 of playing time.
After failing to hold onto a late lead against the Fighting Irish, this Badger run to put away a young NC State team showed that Wisconsin remains adept at holding onto and building leads.
"We always want to get off to a good start because we feel if we can play with a lead it is to our benefit," senior forward Jon Leuer said. "It's hard for teams to come back against us."
After building and adding onto that lead, Wisconsin stayed true to its principles and grinded down an NC State team that started just one upperclassman.
The Wisconsin victory—their third straight in the annual challenge—helped the Big Ten claim just its second overall victory since it started in 1999. The first came last year.
"It means a lot, we take pride in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge," Leuer said. "[And] it builds up our conference RPI which is a positive."
Let's hope Bucky can keep it going. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!