MADISON, Wis. – Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter said the Panthers were trying to make "everything happen in one pass, one play" against No. 4 Wisconsin.
Instead, they committed 19 turnovers that the Badgers turned into 28 points in a 78-52 rout Wednesday night.
"We just didn't have the opportunities that we needed to to give yourself a chance against a Wisconsin team," Jeter said. "Turn the ball that many times, give up 28 points, that's hard to overcome when they are shooting the ball the way they did in the first half."
For the Badgers, it was their biggest margin of victory on the young season, and they have tied their best start in 70 years.
Still, coach Bo Ryan and his players weren't exactly impressed.
Despite their reputation as a disciplined basketball team, the Badgers committed three straight turnovers after missing their first shot. Other than Ben Brust, who led the team with 18 points, they struggled offensively to open the game. They were just 1 of 13 from behind the 3-point line in the second half.
Still, that might seem a little nitpicky to some considering all the other things they did well.
"We're going to see a lot in clips tomorrow," Brust promised. "There's definitely some things that we missed, the bad start. There's just spots throughout the whole game where we could have played a better 40 minutes altogether, but a good win. You can't be mad about that."
This is rarefied air for the Badgers. Going 11-0 to open the season matches their record to open 1993-94, the program's best start since 1943. They have also cracked The Associated Press' top 5 for only the second season with the 2006-07 squad hitting No. 1.
Though Wisconsin was far from perfect Wednesday, it used one run to blow the game open and then capitalized on repeated mistakes by Milwaukee (9-3) to make sure the game stayed out of reach.
Early on, only Brust was connecting. But he hit his first six shots, including four from behind the 3-point line. That was good enough to help the Badgers open a 22-13 lead more than midway through the first half even as his teammates opened 3 of 11.
Then the rest of the team found its stroke.
Wisconsin reeled off a 23-7 run that featured five 3-pointers by five Badgers to blow the game open, and the Badgers finished the half 9 for 13 from deep.
Frank Kaminsky scored 16 points for the Badgers, while Sam Dekker and Traevon Jackson had 12 points apiece.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, couldn't get out of the hole it dug in the first half, when the Panthers turned the ball over 11 times and the Badgers turned them into 18 points. Things got marginally better in the second half, when the Panthers committed another eight turnovers that resulted in 10 more Wisconsin points. The 19 turnovers tied their season high.
"You cannot spot the No.4-ranked team in the country 20 points and then in the second half think you are going to have a chance really cut into a team like Wisconsin," Jeter said. "They are so disciplined. We saw firsthand tonight that all five guys can make shots. The way they were shooting the ball in the first half was impressive."
Kyle Kelm scored 17 points to lead the Panthers, while Matt Tiby added 11.
Tiby came in as the Panthers' leading scorer, and though he scored in double figures, the Badgers played him physically all game. Kaminsky blocked Tiby's first shot and the Milwaukee forward was 3 for 10 and had six turnovers.
Milwaukee cut the Badgers' lead to 16 points once in the second half, but that was snuffed out by a quick 10-0 Wisconsin run.
"We knew he's a worker," Ryan said of Tiby. "We know he brings a lot of fire to the court. He's tenacious. So we just tried to match that and then some, just tried to make his looks tougher."