By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — No. 22 Wisconsin isn’t built to overcome big deficits.
So when the Badgers fell behind by 19 points early in the second half at No. 10 Florida on Wednesday night, the game was essentially over.
Sam Dekker and Jared Berggren scored 11 points apiece for Wisconsin, but it wasn’t enough in a 74-56 loss to the Gators.
“Sometimes you’re built with more experience, slashers, more speed at certain positions,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “There wasn’t an advantage we had.”
The Badgers tried to keep up with Florida inside and out, but failed at both.
The biggest problem was containing Erik Murphy. The 6-foot-10 forward tied a career high with 24 points. He made all 10 of his shots, including several in the post and just two from 3-point range, as the short-handed Gators enjoyed a double-digit lead most of the night. He also had seven rebounds.
Murphy became just the fourth player in school history and 18th in Southeastern Conference history to take at least 10 shots in a game and make them all.
“Mr. Versatility is what you should call him,” teammate Pat Young said. “He knocked down 3s. He knocked down pull-ups. He was in the post. He was making moves. He was getting offensive rebounds and putting them back up. That was just really cool just seeing him play the way.
“I know he’s been able to play like that for a long time. It’s just been a matter of time for him to get the opportunity to actually do it, and I’m really proud of him.”
Mike Rosario added 15 points, four rebounds and four assists for Florida (2-0), and Kenny Boynton chipped in 10 points.
Playing without point guard Scottie Wilbekin (suspension) and forward Casey Prather (concussion), the Gators essentially won the game with fast starts in both halves. Florida scored the first nine points of the game and the first seven after intermission.
Murphy was involved in both runs.
The Badgers (1-1), meanwhile, missed their first six shots — including five from behind the arc.
“Those shots we usually hit,” Dekker said. “Those first five 3-pointers we took are good shots for us, but when those shots aren’t falling, we can’t become one-dimensional. That’s the kind of stuff we have to work on, but that’s why it’s the second game of the year.”
The early hole proved too big to overcome against the hot-shooting Gators.
Florida hit 18 of 24 shots (75 percent) in the first 20 minutes and extended the lead to 50-31 early in the second half.
“When they get hot like that, it’s a really tough team to beat,” Dekker said.
Kenny Boynton converted the 13th four-point play of his career to open the second half. Murphy followed with a post basket, and then Boynton added a driving layup.
The Badgers never cut the lead below 12 the rest of the way.
“It’s obviously disappointing right now, but there’s a lot of stuff to learn from,” Berggren said. “It’s obviously very early in the season, so there’s a lot of time to get better. We’ve just got to learn from our mistakes and go from there.”
Aside from allowing some open looks, Wisconsin played fairly well.
The Badgers shot 35.6 percent from the field, made seven 3-pointers, finished with 12 offensive rebounds, managed 11 steals and turned the ball over just 10 times against Florida’s press.
The porous defense was too much to overcome.
“I don’t hang my players out, but the thing that we worked on we did the opposite,” Ryan said.