Game Day Grades: No.8 Kentucky

ARLINGTON, Texas - A valiant effort wasn't enough to keep a memorable ride going for Wisconsin, as the Badgers couldn't get the final shot to drop in a 74-73 defeat to No.8 Kentucky at AT&T Stadium Saturday night. BadgerNation hands out the grades.

Offense: B+

Wisconsin's offense was there, but back-to-back turnovers – two of only eight in the game - with less than four minutes to go in the game hurt its chances down the stretch.

The Badgers finished the game 23-for-50 (46 percent) from the field with four players scoring in double figures. Ben Brust and Sam Dekker tied for the team lead with 15 points, Traevon Jackson had 12 points and Bronson Koenig had 11 points off the bench.

Wisconsin did a good job of working the shot clock and was able to consistently find solid shots from the perimeter; going 8-for-20 (40 percent) from three. The Badgers were able to get open either using screens or simply rotating the basketball around the perimeter.

Wisconsin was only able to grab six offensive rebounds, translating into 10 points for the Badgers. Frank Kaminsky led the way with four offensive rebounds and Kentucky never allowed him to get going down low. The Wildcats consistently double-teamed him and held him to eight points on 4-for-7 shooting. The Badgers were able to finish the game with 24 points in the paint.

Defense: C+

Wisconsin allowed Kentucky to make it to easy at times, which is why the Wildcats scored 46 points in the paint. With Kentucky having so much success down low, they didn't have to settle for any shots around the perimeter - going 2-for-5 (40 percent) from three in the game.

Kentucky finished the game 29-for-58 (50 percent) from the field, with James Young leading the way with 17 points. Julius Randle was second with 16 points and Dakari Johnson was third with 10 points.

Wisconsin struggled to keep the Wildcats off the glass, allowing Kentucky to grab 11 offensive rebounds in the game, which they were able to convert into 23 points. Johnson led the Wildcats in offensive rebounds with five.

With Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes struggling with foul trouble in the first half, it allowed the Wildcats to attack the hoop and give them second-chance opportunities. The Badgers committed 18 team fouls and sent Kentucky to the free throw line 21 times, with them knocking down 14 free throws.

As good as Wisconsin has been on defense as of late, they couldn't force the young Kentucky team into turning the basketball over. Committing double-digit turnovers the last six games, Kentucky finished with four turnovers, none in the second half.

Overall: B

Wisconsin had its chance but Jackson last-second shot couldn't rattle in for the Badgers to get the victory. Jackson was able to give Wisconsin a 73-71 lead after he made two of his three free throws after drawing a foul on Andrew Harrison with 16 seconds remaining.

Despite Wisconsin shooting the basketball so well at the free throw line going 19-for-20 (95 percent) from the free throw line, Jackson missing the first of his three free throws proved costly.

As Wisconsin fans will be talking about Jackson missing the free throw, others will be talking about how Josh Gasser (two points) should have been playing closer to Aaron Harrison, who hit the winning three-point shot for Kentucky. Gasser played the full 40 minutes and gave Harrison just enough room to knock down the three from beyond NBA range. It's hard to fault Gasser for not playing too tight on him because if he plays closer, Harrison possibly drives and Gasser picks up a foul or Harrison dumps it off.

The bench stepped up tonight for Wisconsin with 21 points. All of Koenig's points came in the first half, while Duje Dukan scored eight points – all in the second half - on 3-for-5 shooting. Nigel Hayes had the other two points.

With Wisconsin down eight points, Dukan was able to get a tip in off of a Kaminsky miss layup. On the next offensive possession, Dukan was able to hit a three that cut the then-Kentucky lead to three points.

Game MVP: Sam Dekker. The sophomore came out aggressive, trying to attack the hoop instead of settling for jump shots. Finishing the game 3-for-4 from the field, Dekker was able to get himself to the free throw line eight times, knocking down all of his free throws. Dekker also finished the game with four rebounds, had an assist, one block and recorded one of four steals.


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