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December 23, 2010

Three party guides UW to victory

MADISON - Wisconsin hadn't played a game in nine days. Knowing that, it wouldn't have been too far fetched for the Badgers to come out a bit flat in their first game back after a lengthy finals week.

Somebody forgot to tell that to Jon Leuer.

The senior do-everything forward drilled four consecutive three-pointers and a mid-range jumper to score the first 14 points for UW, essentially setting the tone for the Badgers 80-56 romp of Coppin State.

"Maybe when I was playing my dad one-on-one," Leuer, who finished with 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting, said in reference to having a similar start to a game at any juncture during his basketball career. "He doesn't get a hand up very often. But I was just able to get in a rhythm right away and my teammates were finding me in spots.

"We were getting a lot of good looks."

So much so that Wisconsin finished the contest with 17 assists to only five turnovers. And so much so that hoisting 38 shots from downtown, two shy of the school record, didn't come back to bit the Badgers.

Ball distribution, passing and patience were the key to victory in UW's win. Jordan Taylor led the way as usual with six assists and zero turnovers. Mike Bruesewitz also dished six helpers.

That ball movement set up UW shooters and they didn't miss too often. By the end, the Badgers set a school record having made 17 3-pointers, breaking the previous record of 15 set against Eastern Michigan in 1994.

"That's the best job I've seen us do of not forcing the three," Ryan said. "Not one of those three's were really forced. Jordan made one at the end of the shot clock but he came off a screen by Leuer. Everybody knows you can screen against zones and if you're not you're in trouble. Other than that it was getting into position with the triangles you create in your zone offense.

"Those were definitely open threes."

With Leuer's help, as well as steady play from Taylor, the Badgers held a 38-26 edge with just less than two minutes left in the opening half. Then, sparked by Leuer's fifth 3-pointer of the half UW closed the frame with a quick 9-2 run, capped by Josh Gasser's three at the buzzer, and entered the locker room with a 19-point margin.

Coppin State was never able to recover.

"We knew Wisconsin had a lot of shooters," Coppin State head coach Ron Mitchell said. "But we didn't recognize how many a lot meant. We went zone because we felt that we could identify people, but that didn't work at all."

The Badgers saw three players reach double digits - Leuer (19 points), Taylor (19 points) and Tim Jarmusz (12 points) - en route to shooting 48 percent as a team. UW also out-rebounded the Eagles 34-23 and forced them into nine turnovers.

It was essentially a typical night of basketball in Wisconsin's capitol city.

"We're doing the little things," Taylor said. "We obviously still have a lot of things to work on, but we're just doing little things. We shot a lot of three's today but we were pretty good on the offensive glass. We had 12 of them so I think that was pretty good. Guys were finishing under the basket.

"Individually and collectively we've come a long ways in a lot of areas, but there's a lot of good teams in the Big Ten and we know that. We're ready to face that challenge."

Team notes:

-UW's strong 47-point first half output marked its highest number of points scored this season. The previous high of 44 was set against NC State earlier this month.

-Wisconsin hit 11 3-point shots in the first half, tying the school records for triples in one half. The 1994 Badgers also nailed 11 shots from distance against Eastern Michigan.

-Overall, UW hoisted 38 shots from downtown, the second-highest total in school history. UW's 40 attempts from distance against Temple in 2001 is the record.

-So far this season UW has limited opponents to fewer than 60 points in nine of 12 games.

-Spanning the past 31 home games (excluding overtime), no opposing team has reached 70 points. Ohio State shares the same span for longest streak in the nation.

-With 19 points, Leuer is now just seven points shy of becoming the 36th player in UW history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

-Taylor has now scored in double-digits in 11 of 12 games this season. He also matched his career high with three steals and posted a career-best two blocks.

-Taylor and Gasser combined for 10 assists and no turnovers in the win.

-Jarmusz's 12 points established a career high.

Quotable:

Ron "Fang" Mitchell on his team's defense of Jon Leuer:

"We definitely wanted to find where Jon was and my guys, I guess they got a little case of amnesia. They couldn't find him as many times as I wanted them to find them. When you're in a situation like that and you're playing against such a great player you have to identify and find him. It's easy to do that in a zone if we communicate properly. We didn't do a real good job of that today."


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