The Badgers' offense was able to get balance scoring against the Illini with four players in their starting line up score in double figures. Josh Gasser and Jordan Taylor both had 16 points, Jared Berggren had 12 points, Ryan Evans chipped in 10 points and Rob Wilson had eight points off the bench.
The Badgers, who struggled to make any shot against the Gophers Tuesday, shot the basketball much better against Illinois Sunday. The Badgers went 21-for-47 (44.7 percent) from the floor.
Berggren had a plan to come out aggressive on the offensive side against the Illini. He was able to open up the scoring by knocking down his first shot of the game and was able to get to the free throw line on the next offensive possession. Although Berggren went 1-2 on his first attempt to the charity stripe, he became a frequent visitor to the free throw line. On the day Berggren went 6-for-9 from the charity stripe.
Berggren wasn't the only one who found success getting to the free throw line. Gasser went 7-for-8 from the free throw line and Taylor went 8-for-10. Both Gasser and Taylor drove to the hoop whenever they had the opportunity, which resulted in the high number of free throw attempts.
The Badgers took care of the basketball, turning the ball over six times in the game.
Defending Meyers Leonard and limiting his touches was a key for the Badgers, and it's safe to say the Badgers – especially Berggren - did their job on Leonard. Leonard only scored eight points against the Badgers – all coming in the second half. Leonard didn't score until the 9:21 mark when he made both of his free throws. Leonard's first field goal didn't come until the 4:23 mark in the second half. By the time Leonard started to get in the action, it was a little too late for the Illini.
Although the Badgers did a good job of defending Leonard, they can't say the same thing about defending Brandon Paul. Paul led the Illini in scoring with 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting. Paul went off in the second half by scoring 17 of his points. Joseph Bertrand was the only other Illini to score in double figures with 10 points off the bench.
The Illini went 21-for-53 (39.6 percent) from the floor, but committed 10 turnovers (seven in the first half). Wisconsin was able to turn the Illini's 10 turnovers into 11 points.
Despite containing Leonard from doing any damage scoring the basketball down low, the Badgers did have trouble keeping Leonard off the boards. Leonard had 12 rebounds in the game and was able to pull down two offensive rebounds of the Illini six.
Wisconsin was clearly the better team and showed why throughout the game. When the Badgers can get balance scoring like they did today they can be a dangerous team to play.
Gasser played well in tying Taylor with 16 points but what has been nice about Gasser's game as of late is that he hasn't been deferring to Taylor. Gasser has been aggressive and looking for his shot something the Badgers need him to do in order for the Badgers to be successful the rest of the year.
The Badgers were able to get 14 points off the bench with Wilson (eight), Ben Brust (three) and Frank Kaminsky (three) all contributing. Brust has been trying to search for his offensive game for a while only averaging 4.6 points a game over his last five games. Hopefully he can find an offensive rhythm going into the postseason.
Kaminsky is going to be a good player for the Badgers in time but made a couple of freshman mistakes. Kaminsky missed his first shot of the day, which was a simple layup, but his back was to the basket and he used the wrong move, which made his shot more difficult then it needed to be. There was another play where he could have had an easy dunk if he went with the right post move but he put himself into a position where he was forced to pass. If he can learn from these simple mistakes and can develop a couple of post moves that he's comfortable with, he could become a good player for the Badgers.
Evans has taken his offensive game to a whole new level this year for the Badgers. Evans was able to extend his double-digit point streak to 10 consecutive games with 10 points. The last time he failed to reach double figures in points was on January 22 against Illinois when he only had five points. Evans has been shooting the basketball at 41 percent from the floor, but also recorded his first two double-doubles in his Badger career during his stretch.
Wisconsin was also able to pull down 33 rebounds - six of them being offensive rebounds – and turn its offensive rebounds into seven second-chance points.
Game MVP: Wilson and Taylor. The game MVPs go to the two seniors. Wilson led the way off the bench in 25 minutes of work and Taylor had his typical day as the Badgers floor general three assists to zero turnovers.
Wilson came out firing in knocking down his first two three's of the day but there was one play on the day where Wilson made a great effort play. Wilson was able to save the basketball from going out of the bounds by passing it to Evans. Evans was then able to find Brust who was able to knock down a three. Without Wilson hustling on that play, the Badgers probably don't get those three points.
Wilson has been playing with much more confidence over the last couple of games. It's good to see him have some confidence in his game because he can definitely play well if he has some confidence.
Taylor played 38 minutes in his last appearance at the Kohl Center and he played well. He was aggressive with the basketball and he got to the free throw line. Every shot Taylor took was a high percentage shot for him. It's fitting for Taylor, who was so efficient at the point guard position for the Badgers in his four year career, to have his home finale to be three assists to zero turnovers.
Wilson and Taylor both had great Badger careers. They represented Wisconsin well on and off the court. Hopefully we see plenty more of Wilson and Taylor in the month of March.