Cornell Proves To be the Bigger Red: Wisconsin's Tourney Run Finished

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2010

The Wisconsin Badgers (24-9) did all they could to "weather the storm" of the impressive shooting from the Cornell Big Red (29-4), but early mistakes, turnovers, and foul trouble proved too much for the Badgers.

The 12th seeded Cornell Big Red continued their “Cinderella Story” with an impressive 87-69 defeat of the No. 4 seed Wisconsin Badgers. With the win, Cornell earned the right to challenge the No. 1 seed Kentucky Wildcats in the Sweet 16.

Jon Leuer was the leading scorer for Wisconsin with 23 points and four boards. Jason Bohannon chipped in 18 of his own points in a losing effort for the Badgers.

Cornell came out right away firing on all cylinders, building an impressive 8-0 lead on a typically defensive Wisconsin Badger team.

Cornell focused the entire game on working the ball inside to their big man, 7' senior Jeff Foote. Cornell also worked high ball screens to create open looks for the team’s great perimeter shooters. Cornell came into the tournament boasting the highest three-point percentage in the nation.

Wisconsin forward Jon Leuer appeared to be the only Badger comfortable early, as he did it all for Wisconsin, scoring the first 12 points of the game for his team.

Jason Bohannon soon began to contribute and looked to be getting hot for Wisconsin. It was the great production from the two Badgers that allowed Wisconsin to hang tough and remain in the game despite Cornell’s impressive shooting.

Wisconsin's other mistakes would soon prove too much for the Badgers to handle. 

Early foul trouble plagued the Badgers in the contest. Wisconsin’s Keaton Nankivil and Jordan Taylor both picked up two personal fouls within the first eight minutes of the game.

The officiating never seemed to cater to the Badger’s physical, Big Ten style of play. As a result, Wisconsin looked confused defensively, unsure of how physical of a defense the officials would let them play. 

Turning the ball over became a problem for Wisconsin as well. The Badgers committed six turnovers in the first half of the game. Of those six turnovers, five came from senior guard Trevon Hughes, who struggled throughout the game for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's turnovers produced what may have been the stat of the game: Cornell capitalized, scoring 19 points off of turnovers, whereas Wisconsin came up with zero.

Every time it seemed the Badgers were looking to string together some confidence, Cornell would have a momentum killer.

Cornell guard Louis Dale, who led his team with 26 points, seemed to be the man with all the answers. Every time Wisconsin began to build some momentum, Dale would drill an outside shot or drive the lane and convert a three-point play.

It was great shooting that allowed Cornell to remain in control throughout the game. Cornell shot 61 percent from the floor, 53 percent from beyond the arc alone.

Because of the hot shooting, Wisconsin always seemed to have a hill to climb throughout the game. At two separate points in the game, Cornell controlled a 12-point lead. The biggest deficit, coming later in the contest, was as much as 20 points.

Cornell continued to shoot the lights out all game, never allowing the Badgers a chance to get back into it.

It became a game of trading baskets in the second half. A bucket from the Badgers was quickly countered with one by the Big Red. It got to the point where Cornell would drive down the middle of the lane, throw up a floater, and it would drop. If the floater didn’t find it’s way into the rim, Jeff Foote was there to clean up the mess as seen by a late alley-oop.

With the 87-69 victory over Wisconsin, Cornell became just the second team to reach 80 points on Wisconsin’s defense all season long. The only other team to do that was UW-Green Bay, who put up 80 points on Wisconsin in an overtime upset over Badgers.

Despite going out in a tough loss, Wisconsin seniors Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes proved to have one of the greatest collegiate careers in team history. Both players eclipsed the 1,000 point mark in the ’09-’10 season. The senior backcourt duo also became two of the winningest players in school history this season.

As for Cornell, the team proved it has all the makings of a Sweet 16 team and one that could potentially make a run at the Final Four. Having nine seniors on its roster, four of which are starters, shows that Cornell has a lot of experience, leadership, and time played together.

Cornell will continue its “Cinderella run” in the Sweet 16 against Kentucky next Thursday and attempt to earn a trip to the Elite 8 .