MADISON, Wis. (AP)—Florida International’s trip to No. 12 Wisconsin was already difficult by the time Saturday’s game tipped off at the Kohl Center.
The Badgers weren’t exactly hospitable, either.
Kammron Taylor scored 16 points to lead Wisconsin to a 79-63 victory over the road-weary Golden Panthers, whose travel plans were wrecked by a harsh Midwestern storm.
FIU (3-5) had to scramble to find a flight out of Miami on Friday, and then a charter bus to bring the team to Madison from Minneapolis. The Golden Panthers did not arrive at their hotel until 5:45 a.m. Saturday, and got less than four hours of sleep before their game against the Badgers.
FIU’s gear never arrived, and the Panthers had to play in scrimmage jerseys and new shoes picked up by the Wisconsin staff just hours before tipoff.
“I’ve got some kids from different countries that come from hard situations,” said FIU coach Sergio Ruoco, referring to his team’s seven foreign-born players. “Being in an airport 18 hours, for them is not a hard situation. So let’s not make it dramatic.”
Johwen Villegas scored 24 points for FIU, including seven 3-pointers.
Taylor hit three 3-pointers during a 17-2 run to open the second half, helping Wisconsin (7-1) to its largest lead at 55-31.
FIU knocked down a 3 at the buzzer to end the first half, and then scored on its first possession of the second half to cut Wisconsin’s lead to 38-29 before the Badgers answered.
“They came out, as a top-20 team in the second half at home, and they went after us,” Ruoco said. “We couldn’t respond.”
Taylor made all four of his 3-point attempts, including the three in Wisconsin’s big run.
“I might have made those if I was out on the court,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “I couldn’t believe how wide open those looks were.”
The Panthers got off to a fast start. FIU hit three straight 3s to take an early 9-5 lead. But Wisconsin answered with a 16-2 spurt and never trailed again.
Taylor hit back-to-back shots, including a 3, to start the stretch, and freshman Jason Bohannon nailed consecutive shots from beyond the arc to finish it. The Panthers did not pull closer than eight the rest of the way.
The Badgers had better than a two-to-one advantage at the foul line, making 24 of 30 foul shots to just 11-of-13 for the Golden Panthers. Nine different Wisconsin players scored from the line.
“The guys were patient. They were looking for one another,” Ryan said. “A lot of those passes led to where they had to foul us. … I thought we put the ball in the position we needed to get the free throws built up.”
FIU was whistled for 27 violations, and starting forward Alex Galindo fouled out with 12:38 to go. Meanwhile, the Badgers only had 11 total fouls, and FIU was never in the bonus.
FIU limited Wisconsin’s big frontline—Jason Chappell, Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma are all 6-foot-10 or taller—to a total of just eight rebounds.
Alando Tucker and Joe Krabbenhoft added 10 points apiece for the Badgers.