Badgers roll in Big Ten opener
Jon Leuer scored a career-high 25 points on 8-of-9 shooting, including making all five of his three-point attempts, to lift No. 25 Wisconsin to a 70-54 victory over Michigan in the Big Ten opener for both Wednesday night.
Leuer came into the game with a previous career-best of 12 points against Duke and had hit a total of four three-pointers in the Badgers’ first 11 games.
“The irony of this is we are going over the scouting report,” Ryan recalled. “(Assistant) Coach (Greg) Gard said, ‘Guys, I’m telling you that (Michigan’s) Manny Harris might be the best freshman in the league. I don’t know of anybody else that can do as many things as he does.’
“I interjected, ‘Next to Jon Leuer.’
“Everyone laughed and then continued with the scouting report. Maybe I need to say more things like that.”
Leuer hit three straight three-pointers late in the first half to quell a Michigan rally and help build a 34-18 halftime lead.
“It was a big win for us,” Leuer said while trying to downplay his performance. “To kick off the Big Ten season like that, it was fun.
“I can’t give enough credit to my teammates. I was open in some spots, and they found me. That’s what it came down to.”
Michigan coach John Beilein said Leuer’s performance reminded him of one of his former players at West Virginia.
“Leuer is a little bit of a Pittsnogle out there,” Beilein said, referring to former Mountaineers center Kevin Pittsnogle. “He was hard to get to. He was the right story for this game today. Every time we got close, Leuer did something great.”
Marcus Landry added 15 points for the Badgers (11-2) who have won five straight games. Their only losses are to Top Ten teams—Marquette and Duke.
Trevon Hughes, the Badgers’ leading scorer, returned after missing one game with an injured right ankle and scored five points.
“I wasn’t expected to play,” Hughes said. “I gave my team a lift on the offensive end and on the defensive end, but Jon Leuer handled us for tonight.
“Jon took a lot of pressure off of me. Now people have got another person to worry about.
Harris had 16 points, and DeShawn Sims added 13 for the Wolverines (4-9), who have lost nine of 11 and are off to their worst start since 1981-82.
The game marked the Big Ten regular-season debut for Beilein, and it was the Wolverines’ first in 11 days since playing UCLA on Dec. 22.
Wisconsin scored the game’s first 10 points as Michigan missed its first nine field-goal attempts. The Badgers led 34-18 at halftime with the Wolverines scoring the fewest points in an opening half this season.
The Badgers increased their lead to as many as 20 points in the second half. Michigan used an 11-3 run midway through the half to pull within 47-39. Freshman Kelvin Grady’s three-pointer with 6:50 got the Wolverines within eight, but that was as close they would get.
Wisconsin, which came into the game limiting opponents to 35.6 percent shooting from three-point range, held Michigan to 5-of-18 shooting from behind the arc (27.8 percent).
“Guys did not come ready to play,” Michigan forward Ron Coleman said. “In the Big Ten, you really can’t have a letdown against any team. They can jump ahead really quick. We just have to get mentally tougher.”