JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Quick impressions of the first half here at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, where 12th-seeded Cornell leads No. 4 Wisconsin, 43-31:
Can't say this result is all that surprising, since Cornell was the most impressive team here Friday outside of maybe Duke. After shooting 57 percent in a first-round win over Temple, the Big Red connected on 59.3 percent in the first half against Wisconsin. This is a Badgers team that only allows 56 points per game, and Cornell is 13 points away from that figure already. The reason? Steve Donahue's team runs crisp, offensive sets, and his guys just don't miss open looks. The Big Red also look like the quicker and more athletic team, and they've hustled to keep many balls alive. Emblematic of that was a play late in the half, when Jeff Foote tipped out an offensive rebound to Chris Wroblewski, who drained a three from the top of the key. Cornell has scored 21 points off turnovers or offensive rebounds, or almost half its points so far.
Jon Leuer scored Wisconsin's first 12 points, and for a while it looked like he might have to carry the entire load. But Jason Bohannon chipped in seven first-half points, breaking out of a prolonged shooting slump. When he hit his first three-pointer, the Badgers fan section erupted. They know how important he is to this team as a bona fide third scoring option behind Leuer and Trevon Hughes.
Hughes, though, has struggled. He has five points but also five turnovers. Wisconsin as a team had only four turnovers against Wofford on Friday. Louis Dale has done a great job of slowing down Hughes's penetration, and Dale has scored eight points on the other end.
Like they did against Temple, the Big Red aren't getting a ton of stops, as Wisconsin shot 52.2 percent in the half. But as long as they keep making the Badgers have to score every time down to keep pace, they'll be just fine. Bo Ryan needs his team to get back to its patented suffocating defense in the second half to make a rally.