Brust, 3-Pointers Boost Wisconsin

Helping ignite Wisconsin in the first half with eight straight points, senior Ben Brust and his 17 points were a major contributor in the Badgers' 75-35 win Thursday afternoon.

MILWAUKEE - Next season Wisconsin will have to replace one of its all-time leading 3-point shooters. But that's next season and it doesn't start yet.

Senior Ben Brust made sure of that, scoring 17 points in Wisconsin's 75-45 shellacking of 15th-seed American at the Bradley Center on Thursday afternoon.

Brust finished the game shooting 6-for-9 from the field with the biggest shot coming at the 9:17 mark to end UW's seven-minute scoring drought. That drought included 11 empty trips and two missed 3-pointers from Brust and Traevon Jackson.

There weren't too many missed from that point on, as Wisconsin (27-7) averaged 1.29 points per possession, including 1.48 in a blistering second half that saw the Eagles make only three field goals.

"Once everyone sees one (3-pointer) go down, it kind of spreads and everyone started hitting a couple," Brust said.

That 3-pointer not only woke up the Wisconsin-filled crowd, but jumpstarted a 22-5 run to end the half for the Badgers. Eleven points of that run came from Brust, who shot 4-for-6 from the field in the first half. He finished shooting 2-for-3 on 3-pointers in the second half and grabbed four rebounds in 25 minutes on the floor.

"Ben's a great shooter," said forward Nigel Hayes. "We all know Ben is a great shooter. We're actually shocked when the ball doesn't go in when he shoots it. I try to my best when I am out there to find him because I can count on him to knock the shot down."

Early in the first half, the Eagles stuck tightly to Wisconsin's shooters around the perimeter due to the lack of separation in the post. American (20-13) forced four turnovers on kick-out passes from Frank Kaminsky and Hayes in the post, but the Eagles scored one point off those takeaways.

As the game wore on, UW's ball movement improved, which opened up the perimeter for Brust and the other shooters. UW turned the ball over just three times in the second half and seven for the game.

"Touching in the post inside and having some inside presence really helps open some things up," Brust said of UW's first half drought. "(We) got a couple to go down and kind of spread through there." Brust and the rest of UW's shooters started to take advantage of more space on the perimeter and slow rotation by the Eagles' defense in the second half. With Kaminsky and Hayes contributing to UW's 28 points in the paint, the extended defense helped expand the offense.

"There was a couple times where we threw it in Frank and a couple guys would pinch or raid a little bit," Brust said. "It's also good to have a guy like Nigel who can come in there and open some stuff, too. Touches in the post help because our bigs make good decisions with it."

The Badgers hit 7-for-14 in the final 20 minutes to expand the lead. Kaminsky, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson and Duje Dukan all hit 3-pointers in the half because of that separation. Wisconsin shot 43.5 percent for the game, hitting 10-of-23 3-pointers. American shot 4-for-12 on 3-pointers in the first half, but made hit 0-of-3 in their 13-point second half.

"Against a team like that, the more you freak out, try to play possessions ahead of yourself and being patient, they're going to really work you," said Sam Dekker, who had just four points and five rebounds in the first half. "So, we just had to stay disciplined and do what we do. Coach never got overheated, keep doing our things we'll be fine and it happened to work our way."

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