'BenRodman' Works his Magic

Junior guard Ben Brust is known as a NASCAR junkie, but his passion through four games has been window cleaning. Registering his third double-double in four games, Brust led all scorers with 20 points in an 88-43 victory over Presbyterian Tuesday at the Kohl Center.

MADISON - Staying at the Palms Hotel during its Thanksgiving weekend stay in Las Vegas for the city's invitational tournament, members of the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team would be best served to key a watchful eye over Ben Brust.

With how hot the junior guard has been running to start the season, he would make a killing at the hotel's casino.

Starting the season with two double-doubles in three games, Brust – affectionately dubbed ‘BenRodman' by his teammates - added number three with over 16 minutes remaining in the game.

"I wish I had a good answer," said Brust, whose team-high 20 points and team-best 12 rebounds were more than enough to pace Wisconsin to a 88-43 victory over Presbyterian Tuesday; the second of four games in the Las Vegas Invitational.

"I've been playing this game for so long, I just kind of have a knack for where it's going to be, watching the angle of the shot, where's going to hit the rim, time it and go get it."

A year after he increased his scoring average by 6.6 points from his freshman to sophomore season and had the sixth-best scoring average among Big Ten reserves at 7.3 ppg, Brust is averaging a team-high 14.5 points through four games.

The second leading rebounder in the Big Ten at 9.3 per game, Brust's 37 total rebounds were as many as he had in the final 21 games last year, allowing his teammates, and Presbyterian coach Gregg Nibert, to coin the nickname after NBA Hall of Fame rebounder Dennis Rodman.

"He's relentless," said Presbyterian coach Gregg Nibert, "except without the tattoos."

And because of that, he's done something Jared Berggren, Joe Krabbenhoft, Marcus Landry and Jon Leuer never did – registering a three double-doubles in a four game stretch.

"What the hell is going on?" UW coach Bo Ryan questioned, as UW (3-1) hasn't had a player accomplish the double-double feet since Mike Wilkinson in the 2004-05 season. "He's got a nose for the ball. How can a guy do that at his size as many times? The opportunities are there sometimes."

After letting Presbyterian (0-4) hang around at 5-2, Wisconsin unleashed a 17-0 run that was started with Brust hitting one of his three first-half 3-pointers, picking apart Presbyterian and its 1-3-1 zone.

Wisconsin took 20 3-pointers in the first half and only 12 shots inside the arc, but the Badgers went 6-for-20 (30 percent) from the perimeter. The percentage rose after halftime, as Wisconsin's 16 3-pointers (on 37 attempts) was one from the school record.

The Blue Hose missed their first nine shots and finished 5-for-15 from 3-point range, getting outscored 48-15 behind the arc.

"Whenever we made a mistake they made us pay," said Nibert. "We've played a lot of good teams in this five years of us being Division 1, but that was the greatest display of shooting and passing that I have seen."

In addition to Brust, Wisconsin got career-high point totals from Sam Dekker (16), George Marshall (12) and Frank Kaminsky (10).

Since losing to Florida last Wednesday, Ryan made it a habit during his media interactions to point out that the season is still young, the sample size is still small and the team is still improving on a daily basis.

The last six days emphasized that point as Wisconsin continues to improve.

A year after leading the NCAA in scoring defense, giving up 53.2 points per game, Wisconsin held consecutive opponents to less than 37 percent shooting and fewer than 43 points.

Granted the two opponents Wisconsin played were a far cry from a No.10 Florida team that scored 74 points, the most a Wisconsin team has allowed in its last 40 games, but the blueprint has been drawn.

The turnovers were also back under control. After its 16 turnovers against Cornell were the most the Badgers had in the previous 69 contests, Wisconsin turned the ball over only six times, while turning 16 Presbyterian turnovers into 28 points.

Wisconsin also held forward Jordan Downing – the leading scorer for the Blue Hose – to only eight points on 3-for-12 shooting two days after he scored 25 points on 9-for-17 shooting. The Blue Hose were led by Khalid Mutakabbir's 14 points.

Even when one of Wisconsin's young players made a mistake, it was corrected, like Traevon Jackson hustling back to take a charge following an ill-advised pass.

Wisconsin also showcased its bench. Wisconsin got points from eight different sources in the first half, and outscored the Presbyterian bench, 36-2.

"I'm just getting more confident and accepting my role out there," said Dekker. "I've never had to come off the bench before, but I've done it the past few games and I have gotten used to it. I just try to come out and play energy."

Wisconsin flies out for Las Vas Wednesday and will have two days to prepare for No.15 Creighton Friday night.

"We can take some good confidence from this game and it's been good that we've been able to feel out our teammates and pick up on tendencies on what each other is going to do," said Brust. "I know we can play with anybody in the country, so we just have to do this together."

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