Game Day Grades: Mississippi Valley State

Winning its fifth straight game and 45th consecutive home games against an unranked nonconference foe, No.13 Wisconsin can prepare for the Big Ten slate after dispatching Mississippi Valley State on Friday. Badger Nation hands out the grades.

Offense: B

The offense got off to a fast start against Mississippi Valley State, opening the game on a 21-5 run. It should be no surprise that Jordan Taylor was the main reason why, scoring eight of the first 21 points for the Badgers. He's gone 5-of-9 from the field in each of the past two games and also didn't have a turnover in 27 minutes against the Delta Devils.

Three Badgers scored in double figures - Taylor led the way with 17 points, Jared Berggren had 15 and Josh Gasser had 11 – while Wisconsin shot the ball well, going 22-for-44 (50 percent) from the floor. They also only needed to attempt 10 three-pointers (making four) because of its production in the low post and from the free throw line.

Wisconsin got good production from its bench, getting 25 points, with Rob Wilson leading the way with seven points in 13 minutes of action. This was probably Wilson's best game so far this season. He had two assists, was smart with the basketball, only turned the ball over once, attacked the rim and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the free-throw line.

One area Coach Bo Ryan won't be happy with is a season-high 13 turnovers against Mississippi Valley State's pressing defense. Credit Wisconsin though for not letting the turnovers become a bigger problem, as the Delta Devils scored only four points off UW miscues.

Defense: B-

It was a team effort on defense with everyone doing a little bit of everything for the Badgers. They forced the Delta Devils to cough the ball up 17 times and seven of the turnovers came off steals with each having at least one swipe. Even with that many turnovers, the Badgers didn't get many easy buckets off their turnovers.

Still, the Badgers have now held 11 of 13 opponents to their season-low point total. MVSU's previous season low was 54 points against Florida. UW also has held 8 of its 13 opponents to 45 points or less. The Badgers are now 29-1 under Ryan when holding opponents under 45 points.

Berggren had a nice game defensively. Not only did he not have a foul but he also had two blocks, as well. There was one play in the first half where Berggren showed good help defense. Mike Bruesewitz was beat off of the dribble but Berggren was able to step in and block the shot.

The Badgers held the Delta Devils to 14-for-48 (29.2 percent) shooting and didn't allow MVSU to make its 10th field goal until there was 5:39 left in the game. The Badgers used their size and length to their advantage to force the Delta Devils in to some uncomfortable shots. Although at times the Badgers got beat off of the dribble and the Delta Devils had an easy layup, the Badgers limited the Delta Devils to only six offensive rebounds.

For the game, Wisconsin out-rebounded MVSU, 39-23, and got a big boost from Ryan Evans' career-high 11 rebounds. The Badgers are 9-0 this season when grabbing more rebounds than their opponent.

Overall: B

Wisconsin played well on both sides of the ball but one area where they need to improve on is free throw shooting. They got to the free throw line 44 times, which are the most attempts since 2006, but only managed to get 31 points out of it. Wisconsin has been shooting 68 percent from the charity stripe so far this year they need to get that number up in Big Ten play to not leave points on the floor. It still shows marked improvement that UW got to the line, as the Badgers are 83-10 (.893) under Ryan when attempting 25 or more free throws in a game.

Taylor, who has had some struggles throughout the nonconference schedule, played well. He attacked the basket and went 6-for-7 from the free throw line. Freshman Traevon Jackson played a season-high 14 minutes and despite two turnovers, seemed to play under control.

Walk-on freshman guard Jordan Smith registered his first career points as a Badgers, making a couple shots to net him five points and knock down a wide-open three-pointer late in the second half. With him not playing at all until the last four minutes of the game, he wasn't cold and he shot the ball with confidence.

Game MVP: Jared Berggren. The MVP could have gone to Taylor but Berggren was the second-leading scorer after going 4 of 7 from the floor and was able to get to the free throw line on a consistent basis by going 7 of 8 from the charity stripe. Although the Badgers need to improve their free throw shooting, Berggren is shooting 73 percent from the line.

Berggren has been one of the most consistent players so far this year for the Badgers. With Big Ten play starting against Nebraska on December 27, it will be interesting to see if he can continue to play at such a consistent level. I think he should be able considering he has answered all of the concerns he had coming into this year.


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