Anderson Keeps Plugging Along

Summoned off the bench to play critical first-half minutes at Purdue Saturday, seldom-used junior Evan Anderson showed that he hasn't lost confidence in his game or his abilities.

MADISON – Having played just 104 total minutes in 35 collegiate games in the past three years, it's fair to say redshirt junior Evan Anderson hasn't had the career he was envisioning when he was a hotly-recruited, highly-ranked prep prospect out of Eau Claire North.

And while he has hardly found his way off the bench this season because of certain limitations, Anderson keeps plugging along, which proved beneficial Saturday when Wisconsin needed him in a pinch.

With junior Frank Kaminsky saddled with foul trouble for the second straight game, Anderson came off the bench to play seven minutes in Wisconsin's 72-58 victory at Purdue, the most he's ever played in a Big Ten game.

"The numbers don't stand out but just what he did and the physical presence Evan was able to present and give us was huge," said associate head coach Greg Gard. "At the time when Frank got his second quick foul, we were able to weather that storm and keep plugging along."

He didn't score a point and didn't play in the second half, but Anderson's 6-10, 245-pound body helped neutralized one of Purdue's best players. On his first possession, Anderson blocked out sophomore A.J. Hammons, forcing the Boilermaker's center to try and reach over Anderson for a rebound. The result was Hammons' third foul of the half, forcing him to the bench.

Averaging 10.2 points and a team-best 7.1 rebounds entering the game, Hammons was limited to two points, two rebounds and three turnovers in 12 minutes.

"That helps us," said Kaminsky of Anderson's production. "He stepped up and played great minutes on defense. He's in the middle of the lane, clogging stuff up and really helping us out. It was a great lift."

Kaminsky and Anderson rotated for the final six-plus minutes of the half, Kaminsky coming in for offensive possessions and Anderson handling defense assignments to take UW's best post player out of harm's way.

"People really don't know his name too much, but we play against him and we know he's there," said forward Sam Dekker. "He's that big of a guy. He's just dense. He moves bodies in there and I think he matched up well against Hammons because of how big he was. He was able to use his body, block out and draw some fouls."

Three days earlier in Wisconsin's 13-point loss at Minnesota, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan never motioned in Anderson's direction in a similar situation. With Kaminsky getting two early fouls and forced to sit the remainder of the first half, Ryan went with the 6-8 Vitto Brown and the 6-6 Zach Bohannon with Anderson never leaving the bench.

Ryan is big on matchups and situations, which haven't involved Anderson until the weekend.

"There's a lot of things that determine on who I can go to and when, but he's been working so hard," said Ryan. "He's just glad he hasn't lost confidence."

Playing the opposing big men on the scout team, including Hammons leading up to Saturday's game, Anderson continues to build his game in hopes of contributing next season. He's never scored more than three points in a game and has averages a foul every 28 seconds, but he hasn't relented in his goal to help the program.

"He's definitely bought into our program," said Gard. "He's obviously a Wisconsin kid, grew up in the state and has always wanted to be a Badger. He's a very prideful kid. He works extremely hard."

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