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Leuer leads the way in Badgers' win

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Associated Press
December 24, 2009
— To Jon Leuer, it's simple. The post is the easiest spot on the floor to score.

But the Wisconsin junior is also showing a steady hand on those short jumpers and fade away shots as he becomes a more consistent threat for the Badgers.


Leuer scored 25 points Wednesday night to lead Wisconsin to a 68-58 win over UW-Milwaukee, providing another example of his growth for the Badgers (9-2). During his first two seasons, the 6-foot-10 Leuer would show flashes of what he could do. But he couldn't maintain it.


This year, he's scored in double figures in 10 of Wisconsin's 11 games, including eight straight.


"I'm just trying to be aggressive and make plays when they're there," Leuer said. "When they're not, you can't force it because we've got guys on this team that if they key on one guy, they'll hurt them. That helps."


The Badgers have become accustomed to breezing through their nonconference home games and have been winning them by an average of more than 23 points this season. But things were nip-and-tuck for much of the first half.


UW-Milwaukee (8-5) seemed intent on forcing the Badgers to use as much of the 35-second shot clock as possible before giving up a shot, and the Panthers had the game tied at 22 with a little more than seven minutes left in the half.


But then the Badgers began to pull away. Trevon Hughes hit a 3-pointer to start the run, and Leuer blocked a shot at the other end before grabbing the offensive rebound on Wisconsin's next possession and putting it back.


The 19-8 run to close the first half put Wisconsin up 41-29 at halftime.


The Badgers built their lead to as many as 16 in the early part of the second half before UW-Milwaukee was able to cut it back to 10 with just less than six minutes left.


But the Panthers could pull no closer, and Wisconsin put the game out of reach with a quick flurry. Keaton Nankivil hit a jumper, Hughes blocked a shot and tipped it to a teammate, and Leuer hit a fade away, drew the foul and converted the 3-point play.


Nankivil and Jordan Taylor each scored 14 points for the Badgers.


Ricky Franklin led UW-Milwaukee with 13 points, while Anthony Hill added 12.


UW-Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter said the Panthers could never find a way to get closer than 10 points, and a cold stretch didn't help.


The Panthers scored just 12 points in a 16-minute stretch that covered the final 4 minutes of the first half and went well into the second.


The Badgers also struggled for a while as they tried to blow the game open. Jeter said the difference was Wisconsin's success converting from the free-throw line.


Wisconsin shot 18 of 20 from the free-throw line as UW-Milwaukee was whistled for 22 fouls, while the Panthers were 6 of 12 as the Badgers were called for 13 fouls.


"The difference for us was when we needed to make a few of those shots to get that lead below 10, those shots didn't do down," said Jeter, who was an assistant under Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan and played for him at Division III UW-Platteville. "We didn't have an answer for Jon Leuer, and that was the difference."



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