Game Day Grades: at Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - For the 4,185 fans who braved a winter snowstorm to come to the State Farm Center, they witnessed Wisconsin basketball come through with a much needed performance in a 75-63 victory over Illinois Tuesday. BadgerNation hands out the grades.

Offense: B+

This is the kind of offensive performance Wisconsin needed heading after it struggled the last two games to get any rhythm on offense and suffered scoring droughts. The Badgers came out and shot 47.8 percent on 22-for-46 from the field.

Wisconsin had four players score in double figures with Sam Dekker and Ben Brust leading the way with 16 points, while Traevon Jackson and Nigel Hayes each had 14 points.

Although Wisconsin did shoot the basketball better, they had an uncharacteristic night in taking care of the basketball, turning it over 11 times. Illinois did a good job of pressuring Wisconsin and made the Badgers work at times on the offensive end.

The Badgers did go on short scoring droughts in the second half but were able to put together strong offensive possessions to put the game out of reach for Illinois. Whenever it seemed like Illinois might have one last run in them, the Badgers were able to respond with a bucket of their own.

Defense: B

Wisconsin couldn't allow Rayvonte Rice and Joseph Bertrand to get into any offensive rhythm. The Badgers were able to slow Bertrand down to 11 points, but Rice led the way with 24 points.

Wisconsin was doing a good job of limiting Rice in the first half to only six points, but watched him get a lot more aggressive in the second half, and the Illini were able to get some easy looks on screens. The Badgers are going to have to continue to try and hedge the screens better.

Once again the Badgers struggled to slow down production in the paint, allowing Illinois to score 30 points underneath the basket. It hurt that Frank Kaminsky and Hayes both were playing with foul trouble throughout the game.

Wisconsin was able to limit Illinois on offense by forcing them to take some poor shots and attempts too early in the shot clock. Illinois finished the game 21-for-52 (40.4 percent).

With Wisconsin playing solid defense, the Badgers were able to limit Illinois to only eight offensive rebounds, which they were able to convert into eight points. Even with Kaminsky and Hayes playing with foul trouble, the Badgers did a good job of boxing out and allowing Wisconsin to attack the glass and limiting the Illini any second chance opportunities.

Overall: B+

Wisconsin needed this victory considering its upcoming schedule, and served as a good bounce back game for Sam Dekker and Traevon Jackson.

Jackson, who has not playing well as of late, finally played the way fans expect him to play. He finally shot the basketball well on 4-of-7 shooting and didn't try and do to much - only having one turnover to three assists. With the way Jackson played, it allowed the Badgers offense be in a flow - something it has been lacking.

Although Kaminsky only had two points, which came from the free throw line, he still managed to grab seven rebounds and had two blocks, but his key play came in the second half when he was able to draw a charge against Rice that swung the momentum.

After missing 10 free throws against Ohio State, Wisconsin did a much better job of making free throws when it mattered. Overall Wisconsin finished 21-for-26 (80.8 percent) from the free throw line.

Game MVP: Nigel Hayes. You can easily give this to either Dekker or Jackson considering the way they played but Hayes just continues to impress each time he plays. Hayes once again came out and knocked down his first shot, which was from mid-range, causing his defender to respect him. That allowed Hayes to go down low and use his post moves. With Hayes being a threat down low, it forced Illinois at times to put two defenders on him, which allowed one of his teammates to get an open look.

Hayes also finished the game with four rebounds, one assist and two steals. Despite playing with foul trouble, Coach Bo Ryan showed faith in his freshman that he could play smart and not pick up any fouls that might allow Illinois to get back in the game with free throws.

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