Scrimmage Standout

Wisconsin's sophomore guard Ben Brust dazzled as he led the Red Team to victory as the starting point guard.

MADISON - One intra-varsity scrimmage, with a running clock in a barely-filled Kohl Center on a drizzly Sunday in October, does not reveal anything that is set in stone.

But if Sunday's Red and White game gave us even an early, albeit small window into this year's Wisconsin men's basketball lineup, then the Badgers just might have found their third guard in the regular rotation.

Ben Brust, a little-used scout-team player as a freshman a year ago, dazzled while serving as the Red Team's starting point guard. He scored a game-high 22 points, leading the Red Team to a 72-56 victory against the White Team.

For a guy who played in 45 minutes all of last season and averaged less than a point per game, it was a coming out party of sorts to the general public.

"Personally, I feel like it's been a long time since I played with a crowd," Brust said. "It was a little weird to be honest. But it was fun to get out here and just play with the guys."

Brust connected on 9 of 15 field goal attempts, including drilling two 3-pointers. He added five rebounds and four assists to just two turnovers while playing 32 minutes.

The top two spots in the Badgers' backcourt belonged to senior Jordan Taylor and sophomore Josh Gasser even before practices began in mid-October. Both are returning starters off a Wisconsin team that finished 25-9 and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Any leftover minutes for the rest of Wisconsin's guards are up for grabs, and it appears Brust has taken the lead in that area, although senior Rob Wilson also is competing for those minutes. Wilson scored six points in 26 minutes of action while playing alongside Brust on the Red Team.

Taylor led the White Team with 16 points, forward Ryan Evans had 14 and Gasser tallied five. Forwards Mike Bruesewitz and Jared Berggren each scored 18 points to aid Brust on the Red Team.

Brust came to Wisconsin from Hawthorn Woods, Ill., where he earned second-team all-state honors by the Associated Press. He starred for Mudelein High School, averaging 24.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists during his senior season.

But last year, on a Wisconsin team in which every player was a superstar in high school, Brust found himself buried on the bench. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder appeared in only 15 games, primarily in mop-up duty during early-season blowouts.

"It was definitely tough in the moment," Brust said. "Last year in practice, you might have a good practice, but you go home and you're a little down because you know you might not play. Looking back at it now, I've definitely learned a lot from it and I've used what I've learned now."

Badgers coach Bo Ryan said Brust has come back for his sophomore season as a smarter, quicker player. And he certainly demonstrated his capabilities on Sunday.

"Those are the things Ben can do," Ryan said. "He can have a scoring frenzy at times. He did it last year in practice every once in a while. He's quick with the ball.

"He played point guard on the scout team last year, and his decision-making as a point guard wasn't as good as it is now. That is something he learned on the scout team. And he's quick. We always knew that. He's even quicker now. He's worked hard."

Brust scored 13 points in the first half and continued his torrid pace late in the second half. He tallied seven points during a two-minute span, his last basket a wide-open 3-pointer from the left corner that put the White Team ahead 68-54 with 2:19 remaining.

Brust said he was ready for the role of being the Badgers' third guard if the opportunity presented itself.

"I definitely hope so," Brust said. "That's why I'm out here coming every day. I want that. I want to be out there with the guys helping the team and winning games."

Taylor is certain that if Brust receives his chance, he'll play just as well as he did on Sunday.

"He did a lot of that to us when he was on the scout team," Taylor said. "It's nothing we haven't seen before. It's something new to the fans. It's really no surprise to us."

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