MADISON, Wis. (AP)—Wisconsin has a short turnaround before its showdown at Michigan State on Tuesday night.
At least the 22nd-ranked Badgers won’t have to sit through a bruising film session after drubbing Purdue 82-46 Sunday.
The 36-point win represented the Badgers’ largest margin of victory in their 156-game series with the Boilermakers that began in 1906.
But the Badgers scoffed at the suggestion they enjoyed a breather on the eve of their flight to East Lansing.
“I wouldn’t say this was an easy game by any aspect,” said center Mike Wilkinson, who led the Badgers with 23 points and 12 rebounds. “I mean, Purdue’s a good team. They play clean but they’re physical.”
And “it’s always hard to play on a short turnaround,” Wilkinson added. “We’ve just got to play through the aches and pains now. People are going to be a little sore. People are going to be a little tired. That’s when you have to be mentally tough.”
The Badgers (19-6, 10-4 Big Ten) are the two-time defending conference champs, but the Spartans (17-9, 12-3) can snatch the title Tuesday night.
“We’re playing for a title, too,” Wilkinson said. “It’s not just them playing for a title. Now is when the games mean a lot. Now is when they become more like tournament games.”
With hardly any recovery time between tipoffs.
“We were doing all the right things at the end of the game, so when we watch film tomorrow we can keep that confidence high, especially going on the road, (where we) can hopefully do some of the things that we did today,” said Devin Harris, who scored 16 points as the Badgers completed their first unbeaten home season since 1929-30.
The Boilermakers (17-10, 7-7), who beat Wisconsin 53-51 Jan. 14 in West Lafayette, Ind., fell behind 29-21 at halftime and fell apart in the second half.
They were outscored in the paint (34-16), off turnovers (15-10), on second chances (16-4), on fast breaks (10-2) and off the bench (25-15).
Purdue coach Gene Keady said he never saw it coming.
“I thought we were going to win,” he said. “We always practice hard— because I have a whistle. If I had had the whistle in this game we would have gone back up into the auxiliary gym and practiced.
“About eight minutes into the game, I would have said, ‘Time out, Teddy (Hillary, the lead official). I want to go upstairs and get something ironed out.”’
Instead, he helplessly watched his team commit six offensive fouls in the first half and allow Wilkinson to grab eight offensive rebounds.
The sellout crowd of 17,142 saved its biggest ovation for seldom-used senior Ike Ukawuba’s jumper that made it 69-41 in the closing minutes. Ukawuba had been honored in pregame senior day festivities along with starters Freddie Owens and Dave Mader.
Owens’ breakaway dunk with 30 seconds left capped the scoring.
“I’ll always remember that,” Owens said. “My last shot is a dunk in my last home game.”
The Badgers’ fans were hoping it wasn’t the last they’d seen of Harris, a junior point guard whose many skills are coveted by NBA teams.
They chanted, “One more year!” as Harris walked off.
“It’s a good feeling that I’m wanted here,” said Harris, who has only hinted at staying in school but hasn’t declared his intentions one way or the other.
Wilkinson finished one point shy of his career best and his dozen rebounds tied a career high. He carried the scoring load in the first half with 10 points with Harris held to two points on 1-for-6 shooting. Harris, however, turned it on in the second half, leading several fast breaks as the Badgers turned the game into a laugher.
The Badgers were whistled for just three fouls in the first half to 10 for the Boilermakers, who didn’t go to the line until 14:51 was left, when David Teague, who led Purdue with 12 points, sank three free throws. The Badgers were safely ahead 42-26 at that time.
Ivan Kartelo was limited to three points by the Badgers and eight minutes by Keady, who held out his 6-11 center after Kartelo’s arrest on suspicion of battery and public intoxication last week.