UW dynamite from 3-point range

first_imgHaving seen so many zone defenses this season, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team appeared more than comfortable in breaking Penn State’s 2-3 set Saturday.As the Nittany Lions collapsed on the Badgers’ big men in the post, Wisconsin simply kicked the ball out, stepped behind the 3-point arc and knocked down the outside shots.In the 75-49 victory, Wisconsin shot 12-of-23 (52.2 percent) from 3-point range, which accounted for nearly half of the Badgers’ total points in the game.”[Penn State was] jamming everything pretty good, taking away our post feeds, and if you don’t hit a few of those [3-pointers] it makes it pretty difficult to get something later in the post,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said.”If you’re not stretching the defense, you have to hit some and against a team like that playing the way they were, you’re going to take more outside shots,” Ryan continued. “It’s just natural. You’re going to hit some, and our guys did.”The first-half was more a 3-point shooting contest than a basketball game. Both teams shot more than 50 percent from 3-point range, with Penn State connecting on 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) 3-pointers and Wisconsin hitting 7-of-12 treys (58.3 percent). In fact, the outside shooting actually turned out to be the most proficient shot in the first half as Penn State made just 4-of-11 (36 percent) shots from inside the 3-point line and Wisconsin didn’t fare much better at 5-of-16 (31 percent).The Nittany Lions’ first 12 points of the game came off 3-pointers and the Badgers answered back with some long-range bombs of their own. UW junior forward Brian Butch started the 3-point battle with the game’s first field goal — a 3-pointer from the top of the key, a spot Badgers senior guard Kammron Taylor would later find to be his hot spot.Taylor connected on three of his game-high four 3-pointers from that very spot, two in the first half coming off screens to bust Penn State’s zone defense.But while Taylor led the 3-point barrage, it was freshman guard Jason Bohannon who stole the show in the first half. Bohannon hit all three of his 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes, giving the Badgers a lift off the bench to combat the Nittany Lions’ early long-range success.With Penn State up 9-7, Bohannon came in and knocked down a 3-pointer off of an unconventional Alando Tucker spinning assist with 15:26 remaining in the first half. Taylor would later find Bohannon in the corner by himself and on the wing off of a flare screen for his other two 3’s.”He has that confidence [to knock down 3-pointers] and I have that confidence in him,” Tucker said of Bohannon. “He was relaxed and it helped us out a tremendous deal. They had to pay attention where he was and I think he really opened up the lane for us on the inside.”In the second half, Tucker added some 3-pointers of his own. The Wooden Award candidate settled down after a 1-for-6 shooting performance in the first half and finished 8-of-15 shooting for a game-high 22 points, while making 3-of-6 from behind the 3-point line.In recent games, Tucker’s 3-point shooting has come around as he has shot 50 percent from behind the line.”I’m looking for my opportunities around the perimeter now,” Tucker said. “Teams have been doing a lot to try to stop me from scoring or getting in a rhythm. I know a lot of teams probably think their percentages are better forcing me to shoot an outside shot and I like that.”And Wisconsin’s 3-point shooting as a whole has improved lately as well. After a slow start to the Big Ten season in terms of outside shooting, the Badgers have found their groove and have shot at least 40 percent from behind the 3-point line in the last five games.It’s no fluke either. Ryan stressed the importance of having a strong inside-outside game in practice and the hard work is starting to pay off.”[Ryan] took time in practice and kind of explained the kind of 3-point shots we were taking,” Bohannon said. “Some of them were forced at the beginning of the shot clock really early in a possession and we never really touched the post. Now we’re getting it down inside into the zone and touching the post a lot of times, and it’s creating a lot of openings.”[Ryan] said our shots will come,” Bohannon added. “He said don’t worry about if the shots don’t fall. … Things will start falling our way.”last_img

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