HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- Everything looks better after a win. Especially for a team still learning to play together.
Wisconsin went through a few rough patches, but guard Josh Gasser was looking on the bright side after the 11th-rankied Badgers' 66-43 victory over Bradley in the Chicago Invitational Challenge on Friday night."We kind of had a first-half lapse where they got a couple of easy buckets in transition and we got away from our defensive rules," he said. "But that happens coming on the road for the first time against a good team."Gasser, Ryan Evans and Jordan Taylor scored 15 points apiece and center Jared Berggren grabbed 10 rebounds for the Badgers (5-0), who scored 18 points off turnovers and face BYU in Saturday's championship at the suburban Chicago Sears Centre."Overall we played pretty well," Gasser said. "We moved the ball well, we got good shots, we knocked them down when we needed too. And defensively we were solid all night. We weren't great, but we were good enough."Wisconsin never trailed in the teams' first meeting since 1989.Taylor Brown scored 18 points for the Braves (3-2), who have dropped two straight.Bradley had 17 turnovers and shot just 34 percent (18 of 53) from the field. Wisconsin hit 25 of 59 from the field (42.4 percent).Wisconsin established a 10-2 lead as five different players scored in the first 3 minutes, 34 seconds. Bradley replied with Dyricus Simms-Edwards' 3-pointer and Jordan Prosser's baseline drive to cut the lead to 10-7.The Badgers then rattled off a 13-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back 3 pointers from Traevon Jackson and Ben Brust, and Taylor's steal and feed to Berggren for a jam and a 23-9 advantage.A Bradley surge trimmed Wisconsin's lead to 30-22 with 1:33 left in the half, but Gasser and Taylor scored in the final minute to push the Badgers' lead to 34-24.After the opening minute of the second half, the Badgers restored and maintained double-digit leads the rest of the way. Taylor's 3-pointer with 4:34 to play opened a 64-41 lead, the largest of the night before reserves came in to wrap up play.Bradley coach Geno Ford said his team had to contend with pressure it hadn't faced yet."You have to be patient and anticipate. ... " he said. "We had a few where guys were open on cuts and threw it too early or the guy wasn't open and we just assumed that he would be."Despite playing in adjacent states, the teams met for just the fifth time Friday. That's partly because of Wisconsin's policy of not playing nonconference games against teams with Native American mascots and nicknames.The Braves removed all direct references and stopped using a Native American mascot in 1994. The teams last met in 1989, a 63-57 Badger victory in the San Juan Shootout. The Badgers now have a 3-2 series lead.Bradley takes on Nevada (3-3) in Saturday's consolation game.Wisconsin is off to a 5-0 start for the second time under coach Bo Ryan. The Badgers won their first five games in 2007-08.Ryan is now second on Wisconsin's all-time wins list (247-91) and just 18 from tying Bud Foster's school record for victories.Following Saturday's games, Wisconsin is at top-ranked North Carolina on Wednesday. Bradley is idle until Dec. 3, when it travels to Wyoming as part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.