MADISON, Wis. (AP)—Two games into the season, Wisconsin appears to have weathered a few significant personnel losses from a team which reached the NCAA round of 16. The Badgers have made some notable gains, as well.
Sophomore reserve guard Ben Brust scored a career-high 17 points to lead No. 14 Wisconsin to a 68-41 win over Colgate on Wednesday night.
“We’ve got some different pieces from last year, especially with Ben shooting the ball from outside,” preseason All-America point guard Jordan Taylor said. “I don’t know if we had that last year.”
Brust scored 13 points in the first half, including four 3-pointers. The Badgers (2-0) were 8 of 14 from beyond the arc as they built a 42-20 halftime lead.
It was the second straight game in double figures for Brust, who scored a total of 10 points in 15 games as a freshman.
“I learned a lot from the scout team and the limited minutes I had last year,” Brust said. “I’m just trying to take advantage of what’s coming to me.”
He hit his second 3-pointer from 25 feet out in front of the Colgate bench, prompting Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan to joke that Brust’s range is “probably halfcourt.” He nailed his fourth on a pull-up from the top of the key when no Raiders defender met him as he brought the ball up, giving the Badgers a 32-14 lead.
“I just smiled and was like `Thank you,”’ said Brust, who finished 6 of 11 from the floor and made half of his 8 3-point attempts. “I mean, to get that open, I was like, `Well, I’m going to shoot it.”’
No other player scored in double figures for Wisconsin, which finished the game 10 of 23 from 3-point range. The Badgers hit 15 3s in their season-opening win over Kennesaw State on Saturday.
Taylor was 3 of 4 from long range and Jared Berggren added another trey in the first half for the Badgers, who also outscored the Raiders 16-4 in the paint before the break.
“I don’t think there was one 3 in there that wasn’t a good 3,” Ryan said. “If that’s what the defense is giving us, we’ll take it.”
Unlike Wisconsin’s 85-31 victory in its opener, the win Wednesday night was not without warts. The Badgers cooled off in the second half, scoring just two points in the first 8 minutes, but their lead never fell below 18 as Colgate (1-1) shot 34.8 percent from the floor for the game.
“Their defense is good,” said first-year Raiders coach Matt Langel, whose team was led by John Brandenburg’s 11 points. “Taylor’s exceptional; he’s a special defensive player. And the other guys, you know, they do their jobs.”
Colgate could only muster six points during the Badgers’ cold spell, which ended when the Raiders were called for goaltending on Rob Wilson’s putback attempt with 11:40 left. Wisconsin shot just 36.7 percent in the second half, and made only two of 10 free throw attempts.
“We were in a position to be able to cover up for mistakes,” Ryan said. “You don’t always get that opportunity.”