Balance is what Wisconsin's offense got Wednesday night. Four players scored in double figures with Ryan Evans leading the way. The Badgers almost had a fifth with Ben Brust chipping in with eight points. It's great to see the Badgers have a balance offensive attack because it's evident that they become a more dangerous team when all their parts are working.
Wisconsin's offense came out hot by making its first three shots, all three-pointers, to give them a 9-2 lead over the Wildcats. Although Northwestern gave Wisconsin a fight in the first half, and even led a couple of times by shooting 54.5 percent in the first half, the Badgers kept the game close, never trailing by more than five.
Wisconsin, which has been struggling shooting the ball as of late, went 27-for-54 from the floor and they also went 12-for-23 (52.2 percent) from three-point range. It's clear when the Badgers are feeling it from distance, they can be a very dangerous team.
After having 12 turnovers in the win over Nebraska, Wisconsin only had nine turnovers against the Wildcats and a 16-to-9 assist-to-turnover ratio. They went back to what Badgers fans expect from them and that is to take care of the basketball.
John Shurna hurt the Badgers in the first half in scoring 12 of his 19 points. Evans started out defending Shurna but when Evans went out with two fouls in the first half, Mike Bruesewitz was given the assignment to defend Shurna and he did a very good job. He made Shurna earn his points by contesting his shots or making him alter them. Early on Shurna was getting open by screens but over time in the game, Bruesewitz and Evans did a good job of hedging the screens to make sure he didn't get a good quality shot.
Northwestern definitely did not get many second-chance opportunities with only four offensive rebounds in the game. Even with Jared Berggren getting into foul trouble in the first half, his teammates did a good job of picking up the slack and making sure Northwestern did not get many second chance opportunities.
The Badgers were able to make Northwestern cough the ball up 10 times in the game. Six of the ten turnovers were steals by the Badgers, impressive considering Northwestern entered the game ranked No. 2 in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at +1.62. Wisconsin definitely did a good job of cutting off the Wildcats passing lanes and making them make difficult passes. It was a collective team effort to get the steals but Brueswitz led the way with two steals.
Wisconsin contained the Wildcats to 19-for-45 (42.2 percent) shooting from the floor. However, Wisconsin did commit 17 personal fouls and sent the Wildcats to the charity stripe 19 times in the game. The Wildcats made 14 of their free throws.
Wisconsin beat a good Wildcats basketball team and UW coach Bo Ryan and his team should be happy with how they played. Although they played well, there is still room for improvements. One area is bench scoring. Brust led the bench in scoring with eight points but it would be nice to see Rob Wilson or Frank Kaminsky pick up their scoring a little more. Wilson and Kaminsky each had two points, but neither made a shot from the floor. One thing about Kaminsky is he has started to position himself more down low instead of being out on the perimeter.
Jordan Taylor, who only had three points in the first half, helped the Badgers open up the lead in the second half by knocking down his first three three-pointers to put the lead at 12 points. After that point, the Wildcats were never able to cut the deficit back to single digits.
Wisconsin had good ball movement against the Wildcats and they were able to get the ball down low to Berggren and Evans. With the Badgers being able to get the basketball in the paint (UW scored 20 points inside) and being able to hit the three (36 points off threes), the Wildcats really couldn't stop what Wisconsin wanted to do on offense.
Junior walk-on J.D. Wise scored a career-high five points. He went 2-for-2 from the floor, including knocking down a three from the corner with 12 seconds left.
Game MVP: Ryan Evans. Bruesewitz scored 12 in the first half and Taylor got the second half going, but Evans did a little bit of everything. Evans led the team with 17 points and was a rebound shy of having a double double. Evans shot a high percentage going 7-for-13 (53 percent) from the floor in 29 minutes of work.
So far this season, Evans offensive game has been fade away jump shot but not Wednesday, as he was able to get the ball down low and he used his post game effectively. We know he has a post game but he doesn't always use it.
Evans has struggled in the last couple of games and needed a confidence booster. His 17 points and nine rebounds should do just fine.