Wis­con­sin shreds ‘Cuse zone, 77-60

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Ge­naro C. Ar­mas

With big men who can pass and a vet­eran guard who can get on a roll from 3-point ter­ri­tory, Wis­con­sin has the tools to shred a zone de­fense.

Syra­cuse learned the hard way on Tues­day night.

Ethan Happ had 24 points and 13 rebounds, zone-bust­ing guard Bron­son Koenig scored 20 points and the 17th-ranked Badgers de­feated the 22ndranked Or­ange 77-60.

Nigel Hayes added nine points, 11 rebounds and 10 as­sists.

“Shared the ball ex­tremely well, were very un­selfish. Made good ad­just­ments,” coach Greg Gard said. “Just a group that’s get­ting closer and closer to­gether, and as we get closer and closer to­gether, the chem­istry gets bet­ter.”

Koenig, the sea­soned se­nior, was 6 of 9 from 3-point range, and the Badgers (62) shot 48 per­cent over­all (11 of 23) from be­hind the arc against the Or­ange’s 2-3 zone.

Coach Jim Boe­heim said his team was still learn­ing the in­tri­ca­cies of the zone early in the sea­son.

“Our de­fense was not good the whole game, and our of­fense slipped in the sec­ond half,” he said. “But we just didn’t cover the shoot­ers.”

Wis­con­sin led by as much as 17 in the sec­ond half be­fore Syra­cuse (4-2) went on a 6-0 run capped by John Gil­lon’s layup with 11:25 left. Two Wis­con­sin turnovers in that span with Koenig on the bench gave Syra­cuse the open­ing.

Gard in­serted Koenig back in the game and the Badgers went on a 7-2 run to re­take a 16-point lead with 9:24 left.

An­drew White III led Syra­cuse with 14 points, but went score­less in the sec­ond half af­ter Gard as­signed 6-foot-8 Hayes to de­fend the 6-7 sharp­shooter. DaJuan Cole­man added 12 points.

With deft ball-han­dlers Happ and Hayes up front, Wis­con­sin gave Syra­cuse’s zone fits.

The 6-foot-8 Hayes found open shoot­ers work­ing from the high post. Happ ex­pertly ma­neu­vered around de­fend­ers in the low post for trade­mark base­line layups. Koenig soft­ened up the zone from the perime­ter.

Big pic­ture

Syra­cuse: White kept his team in the game early af­ter the Or­ange trailed by 14 mid­way through the first half. The trans­fer from Ne­braska has fit in nicely as a go-to scorer from the perime­ter, and his 6-7 frame is well-suited for Boe­heim’s zone. White was 4 of 6 from 3-point range in the first half, and Syra­cuse was able to chip away with Hayes and Koenig on the bench with two fouls apiece to get within 43-39 at half­time.

Wis­con­sin: Gard preaches ball move­ment and the im­por­tance of mak­ing the ex­tra pass, both keys to play­ing the zone. A se­nior-laden start­ing lineup also has the ex­pe­ri­ence of fac­ing dif­fer­ent looks and pres­sure sit­u­a­tions.

Lockdown

Six-3 guard Zak Showal­ter had the ini­tial de­fen­sive as­sign­ment on White be­fore the Badgers switched to Hayes af­ter half­time.

“I wanted to make sure that I tried to get at least one steal where I just knocked it out of his hands,” Hayes said. “That way he’ll shield the ball when he comes off a screen. It makes it a lit­tle harder for him to catch and shoot it if he’s got the ball on his back hip try­ing to keep it away from me.”

Ly­don down

Syra­cuse star Tyler Ly­don fin­ished with nine points, but was just 1 of 2 for two points in the sec­ond half. The 6-9 Ly­don is start­ing at small for­ward.

“It’s a lit­tle harder for him at the 3. He’s more ef­fec­tive of­fen­sively at” cen­ter, Boe­heim said. “He’s be­ing cov­ered by a 6-4 guy and he’s not re­ally a postup player. That guy is tak­ing away his 3s out there.”

Poll im­pli­ca­tions

Syra­cuse: The Or­ange lost their sec­ond straight game af­ter falling to South Carolina in New York on Saturday. They fell to their first ranked foe, al­beit in a tough road en­vi­ron­ment. It could knock Syra­cuse down a spot or two in the next poll next week.

Wis­con­sin: The Badgers picked up their first win over a ranked op­po­nent, though how they fare in the next poll will be de­ter­mined by whether they can beat Ok­la­homa on Saturday.

Up next

Syra­cuse: Re­turns to the Car­rier Dome on Saturday to host North Florida fol­low­ing a two-game swing away from home.

Wis­con­sin: A tough early-sea­son sched­ule con­tin­ues when the Soon­ers visit Madi­son on Saturday.

ANDY MANIS — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Syra­cuse’s An­drew White (3) and Wis­con­sin’s Nigel Hayes (10) scram­ble for a loose ball dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NCAA col­lege basketball game Tues­day in Madi­son, Wis. Wis­con­sin won 77-60.

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