Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton wasn't sure what to expect when the Golden Eagles played their first full game without leading scorer Obi Emegano on Saturday night at Wisconsin.
It didn't start well and finished poorly, but it could have been a lot worse.
Shawn Glover had 24 points, but Oral Roberts struggled to keep No. 12 Wisconsin off the boards in a 76-67 loss.
The Golden Eagles (2-3) clawed back after trailing by 17 in the first half, and Sutton said the game had the makings of a 30- or 40-point blowout before they pulled it together. He was pleased with how they fought back, especially after they were tied with Saint Louis with 11 minutes to go on Thursday only to lose by 17 after Emegano was hurt.
"I think our guys got rattled," Sutton said. "Obi is not only our leading scorer, he's our best defender, he's our leader. He's got a great calming effect over our guys. We missed that."
Frank Kaminsky had 21 points for Wisconsin (6-0), which had five players score in double figures. Josh Gasser finished with 15 points, Traevon Jackson had 11 and Sam Dekker scored 10.
The Badgers were shooting a Big Ten-best 48.5 percent from 3-point range coming into the game, but struggled from behind the arc in this one. Playing their third game in five days, they hit just 7 of 23 attempts.
"The percentage we were shooting from 3, you know there's going to be some games where that's not going to happen," Ryan said.
Wisconsin made up for the long-range deficit by grabbing 12 offensive rebounds and scoring 15 second-chance points. The work in the lane — where the Badgers scored 34 points — helped them shoot 47 percent from the floor for the game.
Meanwhile, a Wisconsin program with a reputation for stout defense is struggling on that end after holding opponents to 39 percent shooting from the field last season.
Opponents were connecting on 46 percent of their shots coming into Saturday, and Oral Roberts shot 55 percent.
Ryan said Oral Roberts stretched the Badgers' defense by connecting from 3-point range, where the Golden Eagles finished 7 of 13. The long-range shooting led to more lanes for dribble penetration.
That's how Glover was most effective, often taking his defender off the dribble and then pulling up for a jump shot. He finished 10 of 16 for the game.
Bobby Word had 14 points for Oral Roberts, and D.J. Jackson finished with 11.
"You pick your poison, and fortunately, we held on long enough that the clock ran out," Ryan said.
Oral Roberts trailed the entire game, but pulled within four points twice in the final minutes, including 66-62 after Glover converted a three-point play.
But the Golden Eagles could not get over the hump as Wisconsin shot 8 of 8 from the foul line the rest of the way, including four from Jackson.
Though they shot well from the field, the Golden Eagles hurt themselves with 14 turnovers that Wisconsin turned into 20 points.
Jackson acknowledged it's been a tough stretch this week, but he was still disappointed in how the Badgers defended.
"At the end of the day, there's no excuses in terms of our defense. We know what we're capable of doing," he said.
"We have to stop the ball regardless of how much we score. That's what we have to hang our hats on if we want to accomplish the goals we want to accomplish as a team."
Wisconsin scored the first nine points of the game and led by as many as 17 in the first half. The Badgers seemed poised to pull away in a romp up 35-19 with a little more than 5 minutes to go in the half.
But Oral Roberts reeled off a 9-0 run over the next four minutes. Gasser made a layup to help the Badgers to a 37-28 lead at the break.
The game is part of the Cancun Challenge. The Badgers will next play Saint Louis as part of the tournament on Tuesday.