Balanced scoring was the key for the Badgers. The Badgers had five players score in double figures with Jordan Taylor leading the way with 14 points. Jared Berggren had 12 points, Ryan Evans and Ben Brust each had 11 points and Mike Bruesewitz had 10. It's the first the first time in an NCAA tournament game that Wisconsin had that many double-digit scorers since having 6 reach double digits in an 80-70 win over St. John's in 2002.
With the balanced scoring, the Badgers offense was able to shoot a good percentage, going 23-for-55 (41.8 percent) from the floor, and once again relied heavily on the three in going 10-for-33 (30.3 percent). The Badgers made 10 3-pointers for the second-consecutive game, accomplishing that for the first time since the first two games of the season (15 vs. Kennesaw State and 10 vs. Colgate).
Evans got off to a hot start by scoring eight of the Badgers first 10 points, but the Commodores defense started to focus more on Evans as the game went on. Even with the defense paying more attention to him, Evans was still able to find ways to get points for the offense by dishing out four assists.
Bruesewitz had been struggling with his offensive game but may have found something over these last two games. Bruesewitz knocked down two three's and it looks like his confidence in his offensive game is back in full force.
The Badgers' offense was able to pull down 10 offensive rebounds against Vanderbilt and turn those into eight points off their second chance opportunities. Wisconsin was also able to take care of the basketball by only turning it over eight times, including just three in the second half.
The defense had the tough task of containing John Jenkins and Jeff Taylor and it's safe to say the Badgers aced the test. Jenkins averages over 20 points a game for the Commodores, but was held to 13 points against the Badgers, eight of which came in the first half. Taylor only was able to get nine points in the game on 4-for-12 shooting and 1-for-5 from 3-point range.
Although the Badgers were able to keep Jenkins and Taylor in check for most of the game, Festus Ezeli gave the Badgers some problems inside. Ezeli led the Commodores in points with 14 on 5-for-7 shooting and managed to pull down a game-high 11 rebounds.
Wisconsin's defense forced the Commodores into 12 turnovers, which led to 19 points for the Badgers. The Badgers did a good job of creating points off the turnovers by going on a fast break or getting back, setting their offense and finding the open man.
Wisconsin struggled to protect the paint against Montana - giving up 26 points - and was OK again Vanderbilt. Wisconsin did a good job in the first half by only allowing six points in the paint but the Commodores managed to get 18 points in the paint in the second half.
The Badgers had a block party last game against Montana but only managed one block against Vanderbilt. Evans was the one who blocked the shot.
The Badgers allowed the Commodores to pull down seven offensive rebounds, which led to 14 points for the Commodores. Vanderbilt shot the basketball well - going 20-for-46 (43.5 percent) from the floor – but the Badgers containing the top two scorers in the SEC gives them some high marks.
The game was definitely a slugfest but Wisconsin played well and showed they were the better team. Whenever Vanderbilt was able to close the gap or take a small lead, the Badgers had an answer. The Commodores were able to take a one-point lead with 2:21 left in the game but Taylor came up big on the ensuing possession by knocking down a three. After that play, the Commodores didn't score again.
Besides Taylor coming through at the end, Brust also was able to come up big and managed to knock down some shots when Vanderbilt was trying to get back in the game. Brust had all 11 of his points in the second half and like Bruesewitz, seems to have found his confidence once again.
When Vanderbilt went into the 2-3 zone, much like they'll see against Syracuse Thursday, it gave the Badgers' offense problems. With Wisconsin facing Syracuse, they'll have to figure out how they'll want to beat the 2-3 zone. Luckily they have enough time to figure that out before playing Thursday.
With Wisconsin needing a late stop, Berggren did a great job of deflecting the basketball at the end of the game. He was able to use his size to his advantage and was able to time his jumping perfectly to get a hand on the basketball.
Rob Wilson had been in an offensive rhythm as of late and even though he didn't score Saturday, he still looked for his shot, didn't force any shots and allowed the offense come to him. Wilson was able to dish out two assists and didn't turn the ball over.
Game MVP: Jordan Taylor. It definitely was a team effort by the Badgers but Taylor came up big when he needed to by hitting the go ahead 3-pointer. He also led the Badgers with 14 points in 39 minutes of work. He may not have shot the basketball well - 5-for-15 (33 percent) from the floor - but he didn't take any bad shots in the game.
Taylor took care of the basketball by only turning the ball over twice in the game, was able to dish out three assists and lead his team back to Sweet 15 for the second straight season.