Game Day Grades: Northwestern

EVANSTON, Ill. - After a season of grind-them-out road victories, No.19 Wisconsin finally got to enjoy a blowout, using its size in the paint and hard-nosed defense to shut down Northwestern. Badger Nation hands out the grades.

Offense: B+

Wisconsin was able to jump off to a good start and build a lead on the Wildcats that was too much for Northwestern to overcome. The Badgers shot the basketball effectively going 23-for-50 (46 percent) in the game. Wisconsin shot the basketball well in the second half - making 50 percent of its shots to never let Northwestern cut the lead under 12.

Three Badgers scored in double figures. Ben Brust had 12 points, reaching double figures for the sixth straight game, and Jared Berggren had 12 points, eight of which came in the first half. Sam Dekker had 10 points and shot 4-for-5 off the bench.

Wisconsin didn't shoot the 3-point shot particularly well - going 5-for-17 (29.4 percent) - but the Badgers were able to take advantage of the Wildcats lack of size down low. Whoever was in the paint found success, as the Badgers got 28 points in the lane.

Illinois-native Frank Kaminsky played well in the second half (scoring all eight of his points), and was able to find open lanes to get easy buckets, draw fouls and make three of his four free throws. After not scoring against the Buckeyes, it was good to see Kaminsky have a good bounce back game against the Wildcats.

Wisconsin was aggressive and managed to get to the free throw line often against the Wildcats. The Badgers went 18-for-26 (69.2 percent) from the charity stripe. Ryan Evans once again struggled from the line going 2-for-5.

Defense: A

The Badgers' defense was able to lock down the Wildcats' offense and keep Northwestern off balanced and uncomfortable. Wisconsin held Northwestern to 12 first-half points, the Wildcats lowest total all year.

Northwestern went 15-for-51 (29.4 percent) from the floor. Reggie Hearn was the only Wildcat to score in double figures with 13 points, but he needed 14 shots to get there.

Wisconsin only committed 10 fouls in the game (two in the first half) that resulted in only five free throw attempts for Northwestern. The Badgers showed good discipline on defense, but it makes life easier on the defense when the Wildcats didn't feed the post. Northwestern only had six points in the paint, all coming in the second half.

Northwestern struggled to get any second-chance opportunities against UW's interior size, only grabbing two in the first half and finishing the game with five offensive rebounds.

The Badgers forced the Wildcats into seven turnovers, five of which were steals. Berggren had three and Kaminsky had two steals. The Badgers were able to get 11 points off of Wildcats turnovers.

Overall: B+

Wisconsin did a good job of dismantling an overmatched team. They were able to get the basketball into the post and it helped open up the rest of the offense.

The Badgers were able to take care of the basketball with only eight turnovers. Wisconsin did make two ill-advised passes in the game, one in particular by Kaminsky in the second half. After Kaminsky threw it away, UW coach Bo Ryan was prepared to pull Kaminsky and put Berggren back in the game, but Kaminsky came up with two impressive back-to-back defensive possessions - cutting off a Northwestern pass for a steal and knocking the ball off a Northwestern player while falling out of bounds.

The Badgers out rebounded the undersized Wildcats 47-22 with Berggren and Brust each having eight rebounds. The Badgers did a great job of giving themselves second-chance opportunities on offense - pulling down 15 offensive rebounds and converting that into 16 second chance points.

Traevon Jackson played well finishing with eight points on 2-for-3 shooting and did a particularly good job of distributing the basketball with a team-high five assists to only one turnover. Jackson was also an effective rebounder pulling down seven in the game. When Jackson can put together these types of games the Badgers have success. Jackson is still searching for consistency and it seems like he's getting close.

Game MVP: Jared Berggren. Berggren did a good job of getting the Badgers going on offense with a dominant first half, which you would expect from him considering he had the height advantage over all the players. Berggren was able to put together an all-around solid game. He didn't try and force plays and allowed the game to come to him offensively. In addition to shooting 5-for-9, Berggren was able to do the little things with eight rebounds, three steals and two assists. Berggren has played well scoring in double figures in four of the last five games.


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