Game Day Grades: No.23 Illinois

MADISON - Winning its sixth straight game over its rivals to the south, No.4 Wisconsin used a quick start, balanced scoring and aggressive defense to earn a 95-70 victory over No.23 Illinois Wednesday. BadgerNation hands out the grades.

Offense: A-

After struggling on offense against Iowa, Wisconsin came out ready to play. Avoiding the same type of start that dug themselves a hole Sunday, the Badgers went on a 20-0 early in the half to put them up 33-10, effectively putting the game away against a good, young Illinois squad.

During the Badgers' run, Wisconsin was able to consistently get the basketball down low to their bigs or was able to consistently drive the basketball, finishing the game with 36 points in the paint.

It was confusing at times in the first half why the Badgers went away from feeding the basketball down low when Illinois showed they couldn't stop it. Wisconsin finished the game 8-for-19 (42.1 percent) from three, but were an impressive 32-for-57 (56.1 percent) from the field.

Wisconsin had five players score in double figures with Ben Brust leading the way with 18 points. Sam Dekker had 17 points, Traevon Jackson and Frank Kaminsky each had 15 points and Nigel Hayes had 11 points off the bench.

Jackson struggled taking care of the basketball against Iowa (seven turnovers), but did better against the Illini, being responsible for two of Wisconsin's four miscues. Despite being more in control tonight, Jackson still seemed at times to be trying to do too much with the basketball. He needs to let the offense come to him so he can try and set his teammates up.

Defense: A-

Rayvonte Rice scored 19 points but did it on 7-for-21 shooting, meaning junior Josh Gasser made him work for his points throughout the night. Joseph Bertrand was the only other Illinois player to score in double figures with 18 points, as Illinois finished the game 25-for-79 (31.6 percent) from the field.

Illinois was able to find success in the second half in the paint - scoring 20 of its 30 points on the low blocks. Early in the second half Wisconsin allowed too many drives to the hoop or the ball to get into the hands of the Illini's post players, which allowed Illinois to cut it to 19 points.

Wisconsin was able to show active hands throughout the game by picking off five passes. Nigel Hayes had two of the five steals. Overall the Badgers were able to force Illinois into eight turnovers, which Wisconsin was able to convert into 15 points.

Wisconsin only finished with three blocks in the game, but the Badgers were able to consistently contest a lot of shots, which forced Illinois into missing some easy lay ups.

Overall: A-

It was good for Wisconsin to come out strong after such a tough game against Iowa. They played with great rhythm and efficiency and took advantage of what Illinois gave them.

Wisconsin lost the rebounding battle with the Illini collecting 48 rebounds to Wisconsin's 35. Even though Illinois shot a poor percentage from the field, Wisconsin allowed the Illini to get 25 offensive rebounds, which Illinois converted into 18 points. The Badgers need to do a better job of boxing out and allowing the guards to attack the rim.

With Wisconsin consistently attacking the glass, they found themselves at the free throw line consistently, finishing the game 23-for-33 (69.7 percent). Coach Bo Ryan has to be pleased to see his team get their consistently but needs to see his team improve their efficiently.

Bronson Koenig and Hayes had 18 of the Badgers' 24 bench points. Hayes was his usual dominant self, posting up early and finding success. Koenig started to attack the hoop when the game was all but decided, and needs to realize that he has the ability to attack the rim. The way Illinois was playing defense, he could've found more success if he decided to be aggressive.

Game MVP: Ben Brust. Brust was key in starting the 20-0 run and was able to go 6-for-11 (54.5 percent) from the field, grabbed six rebounds, dished out two assists and had a steal. Brust has gotten off to slow starts in the last two Big Ten Games, but was able to come out strong and it remained that way until he clocked out.

Badger Nation Top Stories