Through its first six games, Wisconsin has been able to get balance scoring and was once again able to do it tonight to help the Badgers pull out a tough victory against Saint Louis. Traevon Jackson led the way with 16 points and Frank Kaminsky had 12 points. Josh Gasser and Sam Dekker each had eight points.
Although the Badgers struggled to knock down shots from the perimeter, the Badgers still shot 21-for-45 (46.7 percent) from the floor. Wisconsin was able to find ways to get into the lane but at times relied too much on shots around the perimeter in the second half (2-for-8). Overall the Badgers went 4-for-12 (33.3 percent) from three.
Wisconsin got good production from its bench. Duje Dukan and Nigel Hayes each had seven points and Bronson Koenig had three. Dukan was very effective in his 10 minutes of playing time and went 3-for-3 from the floor along with grabbing three rebounds.
Despite coughing the basketball up nine times, the Badgers did a much better job of taking care of the ball in the second half with only two turnovers. At times in the first half the Badgers just made lazy passes that were easy steals for the Billikens.
Despite forcing Saint Louis into foul trouble, the Badgers struggled to make their free throws. Wisconsin only shot 17-for-30 (56.7 percent) from the charity stripe. The Badgers are going to have to get that fixed, especially come Big Ten play.
Although the Badgers gave up the second fewest points on the season, there's still work to be done for Wisconsin.
At times the Badgers continue to give up to easy points. On back-to-back possessions in the second half, Hayes and Kaminsky failed to communicate between each other on a switch resulted in uncontested lay ups. The Badgers also need to work on hedging screens, but Wisconsin should improve on these two areas as the season progresses.
While there were mental lapses on the defensive side, the Badgers did do a good job of limiting and making all-conference first-team forward Dwayne Evans earn his points. Evans was close to his average in scoring the Badgers were able to frustrate him and contested everything down low.
Kaminsky was a big reason for Evans' struggles with a team-high four blocks. Kaminsky played smart defense and put himself in a position to contest any shot down low. The Badgers finished with eight blocks in the game. Jackson and Hayes each had two blocks.
While limiting Evans, the Badgers were able to force a lot of one-and-done possessions for the Billikens. The Badgers' defense was able to hold the Billikens to 32.8 percent shooting on 21-for-64 from the field. While Saint Louis grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, Wisconsin outrebounded the Billikens by three.
This game against Saint Louis will help prepare the Badgers when Big Ten play rolls around. With Wisconsin having to work for its points and the physicality of the games at times will serve them well. Although it wasn't a thing of beauty, the Badgers will have to be able to win these types of games.
The Badgers were able to get on some runs to create distance between themselves and the Billikens but were never able to close them out. Wisconsin needs to learn not to let teams back in the game.
Even though Kaminsky may not have had an offensive explosion, like he has had in the last four games, he still put together an impressive game and came up two rebounds shy of posting a double-double.
The Badgers were only able to force seven turnovers in the game (four of which were steals; Jackson had two of those steals). It's not surprising that the Billikens were able to take care of the basketball with the veterans they have handling the basketball. The best a team can do in that situation is to make sure they don't find ways to distribute the basketball and force them into taking tough shots; something Wisconsin had success with.
Game MVP: Traevon Jackson. Despite struggling in the first half, Jackson came out strong in the second half. Jackson was able to help ice the game by making his free throws down the stretch - finishing the game 7-for-10 from the charity stripe and scoring the final six of nine points for the Badgers. Jackson also came up with a key steal with less then a minute to go in the game after missing two free throws. Jackson continues to prove to be a good closer for Wisconsin and isn't afraid to try and make a play for the Badgers.