Minnesota 45

(7-9, 1-1 Big Ten)

(4) Wisconsin 68

(15-1, 1-0 Big Ten)

    4:37 PM ET, January 6, 2007

    Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin

    1 2 T
    MINN 20 2545
    #4WIS 37 3168

    Top Performers

    Minnesota: D. Coleman 15 Pts, 5 Reb, 2 Ast

    Wisconsin: M. Flowers 11 Pts, 3 Reb, 4 Ast, 3 Stl

    Wisconsin continues to protect home floor in Big Ten play

    MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- With a major test coming up this week, a defensive smothering of Minnesota didn't provide a whole lot of comfort to Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan.

    The fourth-ranked Badgers opened their Big Ten season with a 68-45 victory over the Golden Gophers on Saturday. Ryan must now prepare his team to face No. 6 Ohio State in Madison on Tuesday night and was in no mood to gush.

    "We'll see if we're getting better defensively for the next one, for sure," Ryan said.

    Wisconsin (15-1, 1-0) trailed early, but recovered from a slow start to take a 17-point lead at halftime. Then the Badgers held the Gophers scoreless for the first 6½ minutes of the second half.

    "They came out on fire," said Alando Tucker, who led the Badgers with 14 points. "But this is the type of team we are. We keep our composure."

    Minnesota (7-9, 1-1) had several scoring droughts in its worst offensive performance of the season.

    "We didn't play well, but I also have to give Wisconsin a tremendous amount of credit," Gophers interim coach Jim Molinari said.

    Wisconsin, already carrying its highest national ranking in school history, may have a chance to move up in the polls this week after No. 1 UCLA lost to Oregon 68-66 earlier Saturday. But the Badgers are more worried about playing Ohio State.

    "They're getting the chance to show the nation what they have, and they're doing a good job," guard Kammron Taylor said of the Buckeyes. "We know from the guards' position that we're going to have to come ready to play on Tuesday."

    Taylor had 13 points and Michael Flowers added 11 for the Badgers, but Wisconsin's defense made the difference on Saturday.

    The Gophers' 45-point performance eclipsed their season low of 53 in a loss to Southern Illinois on Nov. 24. Minnesota shot 34.7 percent against Wisconsin, its second-worst shooting performance this season.

    The Gophers had won two straight coming into Saturday, opening conference play under Molinari, a former head coach at Bradley, with a home victory over Purdue on Wednesday. Molinari said a road loss against a top-five team wouldn't necessarily wipe out his team's confidence.

    "I don't think it negates it, no," Molinari said. "Did we want to play better? Absolutely."

    Despite the loss, the Gophers are 5-4 under Molinari, who took over on Nov. 30 after Dan Monson accepted a buyout and resigned with the Gophers on a five-game losing streak.

    Forward Dan Coleman led Minnesota with 15 points.

    Spencer Tollackson, the Gophers' third-leading scorer, sprained his left hand when he collided with a teammate near the end of the first half and did not play in the second half.

    Minnesota guard Lawrence McKenzie, the team's leading scorer, started the game from the bench after missing a team breakfast. He played 31 minutes but was held to five points on 2-for-9 shooting.

    McKenzie said the Gophers' hot start might have cost them their concentration.

    "At the beginning of the game, we got in a good offensive flow and it was coming real easy," McKenzie said. "We were a little bit more worried about our scoring than playing defense."

    Minnesota led Wisconsin for the first 10-plus minutes of a low-scoring first half. Molinari said the hot start might have lulled his team into believing that it could outscore the Badgers.

    "I think we kind of lost our identity," Molinari said. "We played soft in the first half."

    Wisconsin came back on a steal and slam dunk by Flowers, then took a 16-15 lead on a soaring two-handed dunk by Tucker off an alley-oop pass from Taylor with 9:14 left. Wisconsin built a 37-20 lead by halftime.

    "It got our crowd up, and our energy started flowing from there," Tucker said. "I was wild after Mike's dunk. Definitely, it felt good following it up. But I think we got the whole building shaking after that."

    The Gophers played better defense in the second half, but couldn't mount a comeback as the game devolved into a clankfest.

    Neither team made a field goal for nearly the first five minutes after halftime, with Wisconsin's only points coming off two free throws.

    Taylor finally grabbed a loose ball at midcourt and drove for a layup to extend Wisconsin's lead to 41-20 with 15:18 to go.

    Coleman scored with 13:30 left, the Gophers' first points since Tollackson made two free throws with 1:06 left in the first half and their first field goal since Jamal Abu-Shamala hit a 3-pointer with 2:30 remaining before halftime.

    Of course, Coleman's shot only counted after Wisconsin's Greg Stiemsma was called for goaltending.

    Wisconsin has won 11 straight games since its only loss of the season to Missouri State on Nov. 24.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 45 68
    FG Made-Attempted 17-49 (.347) 24-56 (.429)
    3P Made-Attempted 3-10 (.300) 3-12 (.250)
    FT Made-Attempted 8-14 (.571) 17-24 (.708)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 13 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 6 29

    2006-07 Season

    » Jan 6, 2007 @WIS 68, MINN 45Recap
    Feb 14, 2007 WIS 75, @MINN 62Recap