UW-Milwaukee falls to No. 14 Wisconsin 60-54
MILWAUKEE—Although Wisconsin remains one of the toughest games Wisconsin-Milwaukee will play all season, Panthers coach Rob Jeter noticed a difference in his team this time out.
As usual, the Badgers had a size advantage -- but the Panthers still managed to outrebound the Badgers and outscore them in the paint.
It wasn't enough, as No. 14 Wisconsin held off Milwaukee's furious second-half comeback for a 60-54 victory. But for Jeter, there were signs of progress in the loss.
"You'd think you could win that game," Jeter said. "But it came down to, kids made a couple tough shots."
The biggest shot was by Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor, who drilled a 3-pointer with just over 40 seconds left to help the Badgers (9-2) hold on.
The game was very much in doubt until then, thanks in large part to senior forward Tony Meier.
Meier scored 15 points and played a key role in the second-half comeback for Wisconsin-Milwaukee (8-3).
"Coach, at halftime, he kind of called me out for how I've been playing, in past games and in the first half," Meier said. "I really just had to step up."
Jeter joked that his halftime talk was delivered "in a nice way."
Whatever the tone was, it worked.
Leading 31-20 at halftime, the Badgers pushed their lead to 44-27 on a three-point play by Ryan Evans with 15:17 left.
But the Panthers went on a 16-1 run that included two 3-pointers, an inside score and a three-point play by Meier, cutting Wisconsin's lead to 45-43 with 9:27 left.
"We could have crumbled, become impatient and forced a few things," Jeter said. "But we battled back."
Badgers coach Bo Ryan said the Badgers got away from their defensive game plan during the Panthers' run.
"They went on a 3-point barrage, and we got away from a couple of rules that we had coming in," Ryan said.
The Panthers later tied the game at 48 on a layup by Meier with 5:19 left.
Jared Berggren, who had 17 points, hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, but Milwaukee's Ryan Allen answered with a dunk.
Taylor then scored inside and later made two free throws, giving the Badgers a 55-50 lead with 3:27 left. Milwaukee's Kaylon Williams scored, cutting the lead to three with 1:08 left.
Taylor then hit the 3-pointer with just over 40 seconds left to put the game away.
With the win, Ryan once again came out on top against Jeter, his former assistant -- but praised the job Jeter is doing to make the Panthers competitive again.
"Robby's got a program here," Ryan said.
Ryan did joke about the Panthers' hospitality, holding a tiny cup of water at the postgame interview table.
"I was looking for a little water, and I got a little water," he said.
Milwaukee was without two starters because of injuries, forward Kyle Kelm and guard Ja'Rob McCallum.
The Panthers got off to a miserable start against the Badgers, who came into Tuesday's game as the nation's best defensive team allowing 44.9 points per game. Milwaukee started 3 for 18 from the field and 0 for 6 from 3-point range.
And they struggled at the free throw line all game, hitting only 7 of 17 from the line.
Jeter said it will be a learning experience for his team.
"For our guys to be down with a team that's as sound as Wisconsin, and to battle back -- and to do it in a way that was inside, not from the outside -- was encouraging," Jeter said. "As much as it hurts right now to lose this game, I thought we were better tonight."