Game Day Grades: Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – Looking to be the first program to win three straight overtime games since in-state rival Marquette in February 2010, No.20 Wisconsin's poor shooting and bad miscues cost them a chance to keep pace in the loaded Big Ten. Badger Nation hands out the grades.

Offense: D

The border-battle victory could have gone to the Badgers a second time this season, but UW was again foiled by its inability to hit key free throws. Wisconsin shot well from the free throw line in the first half (4-for-5), but made just 50 percent of its second half attempts (5-for-10) that cost them a regulation win.

Ryan Evans could have helped secure the win at the free line, but it was a struggle like the rest of the season. Evans hit on just 2-for-8 of his field goal attempts (2-for-8 at the line), but was able to grab 10 rebounds.

After scoring three points in the first half, Sam Dekker was poised at the second half and UW's best scoring weapon. Dekker sank two straight threes to give the Badgers the lead again with eight minutes left, and finished with 14 points and went 6-for-7 from the free throw line. Wisconsin finished 10-for-17, while Minnesota was 18-for-24 at the charity stripe.

Traevon Jackson had four assists and scored seven points, but it took too many attempts for him to do it (3-for-14 from the field). Jared Berggren contributed eight points and eight rebounds, but he also finished with a rough shooting percentage (3-for-9).

Wisconsin did not take care of the ball well, turning it over 11 times. The Badgers had another rough offensive day, finishing 18-for-59 from the field (30.5 percent) and were also outscored in the paint 22-18. Sticking with the theme, the 3-point line was also a major challenge, as the Badgers finished 25 percent (7-for-28) beyond the arc.

Defense: B-

The Badgers out-rebounded the Gophers on the glass (43 to 36) and forced nine turnovers, but only scored five points off those takeaways.

The Badgers' bigs slowed Rodney Williams (10 points) and Trevor Mbakwe (8 points), but it was again Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins that got the better of the Badgers' defense. The duo combined to score 32 of the Gophers' 58 points. Andre Hollins shot 5-for-16 from the field, but made 80 percent of his free throws (8-for-10).

Minnesota did shoot only 36.7 percent from the floor (4-for-17 on threes), but took advantage of second-chance opportunities and points off turnovers (scoring nine points in each category).

Overall: C-

The Minnesota and Wisconsin border battle is usually tightly contested, even when one team gets out to a big lead. Playing their third straight overtime game, it's possible the Badgers were playing with tired legs heading into the extra time.

If it wasn't for good positioning by Mike Bruesewitz, the Badgers might have been upset by the Gophers in regulation. With 25 seconds left on the clock, Bruesewitz slid into position and took a charge to that could have sealed the win. Bruesewitz quickly erased that positive play by turning it over on the in-bounds, setting up two Gophers free throws that forced overtime.

The Badgers' shooting slump at the end of the first half and into the second half barely kept them in front, but Wisconsin kept its composure after losing its second-half lead until the waning seconds.

The Badgers didn't have enough energy to get the win. Their offensive struggles from basically every area of the floor made it that much more of a task for UW.

MVP: Sam Dekker. Brust could have been the MVP, too, except he virtually disappeared in the second half. After a disappointing first half, Dekker woke up and was the go-to guy in the second half, scoring 11 of his points, making two of his four three point attempts. Except for Dekker and Brust, the Badgers had a hard time scoring.


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