Sun. Final: Wisconsin 81, California 56
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Four days after being "out-toughed" in a loss to Virginia, there was no doubt what the focus was for the Wisconsin basketball team Sunday: Hard work.
The motivated Badgers hustled after loose balls, won the rebounding battle, clamped down defensively and routed previously unbeaten California 81-56.
"You definitely take it personally when you get out-toughed, like with the Virginia game," said Jared Berggren, who had 18 points and eight rebounds for Wisconsin. Berggren said the program hangs its hat on "playing harder than people and being tougher than people and just out-working guys."
"I liked the fight in the guys today," he said. "I thought we played a lot harder."
Ben Brust led the Badgers (5-3) with a season-high 22 points, while Ryan Evans and Sam Dekker added 13 and 10, respectively. Allen Crabbe had a game-high 25 for Cal (6-1), which was looking to start the season with seven straight wins for the first time since 1959.
"I can't say as maybe I didn't expect a little bit of this," Bears coach Mike Montgomery said, adding that his team didn't have a good week of practice.
"When Virginia came in here and beat them, we knew we were going to get them at their best in terms of their effort (and) their physicality, and they shot the ball well."
It all added up to a lopsided game.
Wisconsin put together two big runs in the first half -- 14-0 and 12-0 -- to take control, then fashioned an 11-0 surge early in the second half. The Badgers outrebounded Cal 36-30, scored 18 second-chance points and converted 23 Cal turnovers into 25 points.
"Mostly what I'm disappointed about is we kind of lost our poise and we didn't compete," Montgomery said. "I would say that we could've come out and played a whole lot better and still not won, but I would've liked to have seen us compete."
Dekker scored six of his points in the 14-0 run, which turned a 6-5 deficit into a 19-6 lead. Berggren and Brust then each had five in the 12-0 spurt, which put the Badgers ahead 31-12 with 5:02 left in the first half. Dekker had the other basket in the run, a reverse layup that drew one of the loudest cheers from the announced crowd of 16,596 at the Kohl Center.
The biggest ovation of the day, though, was for Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema and running backs Montee Ball, James White and Melvin Gordon. They walked out to center court during the first timeout with the shiny, silver Big Ten championship trophy the Badgers won Saturday night by trouncing Nebraska 70-31 in Indianapolis.
Justin Cobbs made two free throws to start the second half and pull Cal within 11 at 37-26, but that's the closest the Bears would get. Evans scored the first four and Berggren added the final seven points in an 11-0 run as Wisconsin extended its lead to 22 at 48-26.
"It's not a big secret: We've got to play harder than teams to beat them," said Wisconsin senior Mike Bruesewitz, who had eight points and eight rebounds. "That's the simplest thing. The team that plays harder generally wins. That's what we did tonight."
Cobbs added 11 points -- nine below his average -- for Cal, which came in averaging 74.7 points per game and had scored at least 68 in every game.
"I think we did a better job of sticking with our rules, making a guy make a jump shot rather than a layup or power move at the basket," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said of his team, which held the Bears to 38.3 percent shooting. "They have two guys (Crabbe and Cobbs) that can score on anyone in the country."