Grades: Defense soars as offense improves

After a pair of mediocre offensive performances against Penn State and Nebraska, Wisconsin shows new life on offense as the defense maintained it's intensity against Illinois.

After an anemic offensive showing at Nebraska, Wisconsin pulled out all the stops when it welcomed No. 12 Illinois to the Kohl Center, downing the Illini 74-51.

Offense B+:

The Badgers came out firing and hitting on all cylinders. Wisconsin's offense was able to jump out to a 14-0 lead. Wisconsin was able to get inside early in the game and was able to knock down its perimeter shots.

After two games of struggling on the offensive end the Badgers went 28-57 (49.1 percent) from the field in the game. The Badgers also went 10-23 (43.5 percent) from three.

Wisconsin had four players score in double figures. Jared Berggren led the way with 15 points, Traevon Jackson scored a season high 14 points, and Ryan Evans had 10 points. Sam Dekker had 13 points off the bench.

Wisconsin was able to grab 18 offensive rebounds in the game. Mike Bruesewitz was very active on the glass grabbing four offensive rebounds. With so many second chances, the Badgers turned those rebounds into 23 points.

The Badgers have done a good job all year of taking care of the basketball but against Illinois they coughed the basketball up 13 times. At times the Badgers turnovers were sloppy and at other times when Illinois started pressuring the Badgers in the second half they had trouble getting off the passes. The Badger guards are going to have to do a better job of breaking the press.

Defense A:

Wisconsin made the lives of the Illini offense terrible. They were physical and contested every shot Illinois took in the game.

The Badgers defense was the main reason Illinois struggled to make any shot in the first half. Illinois only made six shots from the field in the first half. In the first 17:21 of the game Illinois was 2-18 from the field. Illinois finished the game 18-51 (35.3 percent) from the field.

Two players scored in double figures for Illinois D.J. Richardson had 16 points and Joseph Bertrand had 12 points.

What was most impressive was that the Badgers were able to keep Brandon Paul in check for the entire game. Paul who entered the game averaging 18.6 points per game was held to eight points on 1-11 shooting.

Like on the offensive side of the ball for the Badgers, Wisconsin did a great job of making sure that Illinois didn't get any second chance opportunities. Illinois was able to grab eight offensive rebounds in the game; Illinois was only able to get 11 points off of their second chance opportunities.

Wisconsin forced Illinois into nine turnovers, four of which were steals. Wisconsin did a good job of cutting off passing lanes and making sure passes were contested.

Overall A:

The Badgers played really well today after coming off of two average performances against Penn State and Nebraska. They shot the basketball well and they played great defense like they have all year.

It truly was a team win, the Badgers were able to get balance scoring and everyone on the team was trying to get after loose balls. The Badgers physical style of play really bugged Illinois.

The point guard play, which has been inconsistent at times this year, was really good today. Jackson put together a really solid first half but in the second half he put himself in foul trouble. Jackson has been a solid defender so far this year but at times in the game today he struggled to keep his man in front of him.

Dekker played well today. He was efficient on the offensive side of the basketball shooting 5-9 from the floor in 24 minutes of work. Dekker also had a nice play in the second half. Dekker was able to pick off a pass and was able to throw down a one handed dunk in transition. Besides Dekker showing off his athleticism he also dished out three assists and had four rebounds.

Wisconsin was able to make a living down low scoring 30 points. Berggren had success and the Badgers were able to drive the basketball to the hoop on the Illini defense.

Game MVP: Jared Berggren

Berggren helped Wisconsin get going in the game and he was able to pick up his first double-double of the year with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Berggren had a pretty impressive stat line with in the first four minutes of the game he had four points, four rebounds and one block. Berggren did a great job of following up his own shot or his teammates missed shots. Berggren finished the game with two blocks and one steal. Berggren wanted the basketball early and often in the game, which is good to see and hopefully that continues with Berggren.

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