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August 21, 2013OTTAWA, Ontario -- Class doesn't start on the UW-Madison campus for another two weeks, but the lessons the Wisconsin men's basketball team learned Wednesday night in their first Canadian exhibition game could have been as valuable as a three-credit class.
Taking on the top collegiate program in the country, the Badgers fell behind early and dropped a 95-82 decision to Carleton University in Ottawa.
Replacing three starters from a year ago and incorporating six freshmen, the Badgers are using this five-game exhibition tour as a chance to grow and develop as a team.
In its opening opponent, UW got all it could handle from the Ravens and will certainly give head coach Bo Ryan plenty of teaching points.
"I knew in the first half I was going to play just about everybody," Ryan said. "Carleton is so much further ahead - they've already played a couple games - their timing offensively, because so many of these guys played together last year, is ahead of us.
"Until you see the game speed of a team like this and how they move the ball and how they get it up and how they're used to playing with a shorter shot clock like that," Ryan added. "They were able to get better shots than us because of their timing. They were better. I thought in the second half we did some good things that showed we were watching and learning during the game."
Wednesday's game also marked the return of Josh Gasser. The junior guard, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, got the starting nod (alongside Ben Brust, Traevon Jackson, Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky) and played 12 minutes netting two points, one rebound and two steals.
"It felt great to be out there," Gasser said. "I'm still a little bit tentative and a bit sluggish, but it felt good to be out there with the guys and get up and down the court a little bit and just play. It's been a long road, so this was fun."
Dekker appeared in mid-season form, finishing with a team-high 28 points on 9-for-13 shooting, while grabbing a team-best seven rebounds and getting to the free throw line nine times.
"I think we learned a lot," Dekker said. "This was our first time playing with this group in a competitive circle. Last year we started our non-conference schedule not too hot and I think this was our way of getting some of those bad games out of the way and I think we're going to grow a lot from this."
The combination of a 24-second shot clock and Carleton's full-court pressure defense made it a fast-paced game and may have put the Badgers on their heels in the opening minutes.
"It was up-tempo with a lot of possessions in the game," Gasser said. "It forced us to get up and down and was a little different than Big Ten play. But this was good for us in the end."
Trailing 13-10 after a lay-up from Evan Andersen, the Ravens ripped off a 10-3 run to open an early 23-13 advantage. Wisconsin would pull within 36-32 with 3:56 remaining on a 3-pointer from George Marshall, but Carleton closed the opening stanza on a 15-4 run for a 51-36 halftime lead. Frank Kaminsky paced the Badgers early with 11 first-half points, but nine first-half turnover and Carleton's hot shooting (6-for-11 from 3-point range) had Wisconsin playing catch-up.
The Badgers would out-score Carleton 46-44 in the second half, thanks in large part to the efforts of Dekker, who scored 21 points after the intermission. After a relatively quiet first half, Dekker caught fire down the stretch going 7-for-8 from the field in the final 20 minutes.
However, the deficit was too great to overcome.
After trailing by as many as 22, UW would close to within 84-71 with 4:53 remaining on a triple from Dekker. During one stretch in the second half, Dekker accounted for 15 of the Badgers 16 points.
Jackson scored 19 points on the night, while Kaminsky (14) and Duje Dukan (10) rounded out the double-figure scorers.
Carleton, who has won nine of the last 11 Canadian national championship, was led by two-time national player of the year Philip Scrubb, who scored 30 points and dished out 12 assists. Tyson Hinz added 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Ravens.
Wisconsin finished the game out-rebounding Carleton 37-34 and shot 46.8% from the floor, but CU was just too much to handle offensively. The Ravens shot 53.6% in the game, including 44.4% from long range.
"I liked some of the battles that our guys got into, Evan Andersen, Nigel Hayes, Sam Dekker and a couple other times getting second and third shots," Ryan added. "They showed something to their teammates that they can physically battle and that's what we need. We've got to have that."