Badgers put leash on 'Dogs
With his team facing its first second-half deficit of the young season, Wisconsin guard Michael Flowers picked Georgia’s Terrance Woodbury clean in the backcourt, then sped down the floor for an uncontested slam dunk—and missed.
“He said he was caught in between a 360-reverse dunk or a layup. That’s why he missed that one,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “He wasn’t quite sure what he was going to do.”
Flowers found an answer two possessions later, draining a three-pointer to give the Badgers a lead they never lost. Wisconsin scored 31 of the game’s final 37 points to defeat the Bulldogs 68-49 at the Kohl Center.
Flowers, a 6-foot-1 senior guard who is now coming off the bench after starting every game last season, scored 16 points and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds.
“What stands out to me is the 10 rebounds,” said Wisconsin junior Joe Krabbenhoft, who has assumed Flowers’ spot in the starting lineup for the Badgers’ first five games. “Mike is fearless. There were a couple rebounds where I was trying to block my guy out and I’d see Mike just flying in there.”
Sophomore point guard Trevon Hughes had 18 points to lead the Badgers (5-0) in scoring for the fourth time in five games despite a poor shooting night. He connected on just 6 of 19 shots from the floor, and only 3 of 11 from three-point range.
Hughes and the Badgers had a miserable showing from the field in the first half, shooting just 25 percent (7-of-28) as the Bulldogs built a 32-23 lead at the break.
But Wisconsin made its first five shots in the second half, coming out of the locker room with an 11-0 run. Hughes made a 3-pointer and two layups during the spurt.
“I told our team that the second half would be an adventure, because Wisconsin would certainly make several runs at us,” Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. “They didn’t wait long.”
The Bulldogs (3-1) recovered to reclaim a 43-37 lead, but missed 15 of its next 18 shots as the Badgers pulled away. Georgia shot a paltry 20 percent (6-of-30) in the second half.
Wisconsin held Georgia’s two leading scorers, Sundiata Gaines (15.7 points per game) and Billy Humphrey (15.5), to a combined 14 points on 6-of-26 shooting. Humphrey did not score in the second half, and Gaines made only one shot in the final 15 minutes.
“Basketball’s the kind of game where momentum’s such a precious thing and such a flaky thing to get ahold of and keep ahold of,” Felton said. “If at any time during those stretches we make one or two more shots, it can change the whole fabric of the game.”
Woodbury was the only player to score in double figures for the Bulldogs with 14 points.
Wisconsin struggled in the first half when Georgia went to a zone defense. The Badgers uncharacteristically jacked up a number of ill-advised three-pointers early in the shot clock. Hughes was 1-of-7 from beyond the arc in the first half, and the team was 1-of-11.
“I was settling, especially once they went into that zone,” Hughes said. “We just got lazy and kept on shooting threes.”
Wisconsin’s poor shooting in the first half was exacerbated by a slew of turnovers. The Badgers coughed the ball up 10 times in the first 20 minutes, but took better care of the ball in the second half with only three giveaways.
Georgia struggled with foul trouble throughout the game. The Bulldogs were whistled for 25 fouls to 10 for the Badgers, and Wisconsin took advantage, canning 21 of 28 free-throw attempts. Georgia only attempted six foul shots.
“That’s something we like to hang our hat on as well as our defense is getting to the free-throw line,” said Krabbenhoft, who added 13 points, six rebounds and a game-high five assists. “We were in the bonus 10 minutes into each half, which is going to win you games.”