MADISON, Wis. - The first time the Wisconsin Badgers and the Cornell Big Red met in men's basketball, things didn't go very smoothly for Bo Ryan's Badgers. The upstart Big Red shot the lights out in a 87-69 win, which knocked Wisconsin out of the 2010 NCAA tournament in the second round.
However, their second matchup had a lot less drama. The Badgers (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) cruised to a 73-40 win Sunday night at the Kohl Center over the Big Red (1-3, 0-0 Ivy League). The Badgers combining a solid defensive performance with impressive games out of senior forward Jared Berggren and junior guard Ben Brust, who combined to lead all scorers with 18 points.
Berggren also finished the game with four blocks, and Brust wrapped up just the second double-double of his career with 12 rebounds. It was Brust's second double-double in his last three games, and head coach Bo Ryan said he wasn't particularly surprised by Brust's performance.
"That's the way he plays," Ryan said after the game. "He plays hard, sometimes it works against him on trying to be too aggressive with the ball. But otherwise he tracks everything down, he has a nose for the ball."
Berggren and Brust's performances certainly helped the Badgers maintain their large lead throughout the game, but the Badgers contributed across the board to keep the Big Red down for most of the game. The Badgers limited Cornell to just 26.2 percent shooting from the floor, including 13.3 percent from behind the three-point line.
Ryan said his team performed a little better on defense when compared to their 74-56 loss to Florida earlier this week, but stressed that it was a small sample size against a team with different strengths and weaknesses than the Gators.
"I thought, if you're going to take a snapshot, I thought we did some good things defensively," Ryan said. "I thought we stuck to our rules defensively a little bit better."
The Big Red led just once during the game, after they won the opening tip and forward Josh Figini sank a jumper to put Cornell up by two points. Their lead only lasted for 21 seconds, though, as the Badgers responded with a jumper from Berggren and didn't look back.
Senior forward Ryan Evans pitched in with a double-double of his own, scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. As a team the Badgers shot 40.3 percent from the field, including 27.3 percent from behind the arc.
However, the Badgers showed they still have a few things to work on as they get ready for some tough non-conference matchups and the inevitable grind of the Big Ten season. The Badgers turned the ball over 16 times during the game, which Ryan said was a little too high for his taste. Evans led the team with four turnovers, and true freshman Sam Dekker was second on the team with three of his own.
"Looking at it, 16 turnovers is way too much," Brust said. "I mean, we don't get that in two or three games at times. It's a good thing that it happened early and we have time to clean it up."
The Badgers will take on Presbyterian Tuesday night as part of the Las Vegas Invitational, and will then travel to Las Vegas to take on the No. 15 Creighton Bluejays in the next part of the tournament. Tip off against Presbyterian is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST, and will be broadcast on ESPN3.