Even though Wisconsin shot 51.9 percent from the field (27-for-52), the Badgers shied away at times from getting the basketball down low to Nigel Hayes or Frank Kaminsky. Hayes and Kaminsky and Hayes were the top leading scorers for Wisconsin, scoring 25 and 20 points, respectively. Sam Dekker was third on the team with 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
It’s fine that the Badgers settled for open perimeter shots but you would expect the ball to get into the hands of Hayes and Kaminsky when they were drawing fouls around the basket. The Badgers were able to get the free throw line 23 times in the first half and even though they only made 13 of their attempts, the athleticism of the big men was helping UW keep a lead. If UW got the ball down low more often in the first half, it would have had a better opportunity of pulling ahead of Green Bay in the first half. Wisconsin also was able to score 18 of its 38 first half points in the paint.
Although the shots Wisconsin took from three were open and they did a good job of working the ball around the perimeter, they struggled to knock down shots, going 6-for-16 in the game. With Wisconsin only shooting 1-for-5 from three in the first half, it made it frustrating watching the Badger settle for shots that weren’t falling at the time when it was evident the Phoenix couldn’t handle Wisconsin’s versatility amongst the bigs.
Wisconsin improved from the free throw line in the second half – going 11-for-14 from the charity stripe. Hayes was a frequent visitor to the free throw line going 7-for-11 from the free throw line.
Traevon Jackson didn’t have a great game from the field, going 1-for-4 for four points, but did do a good job of finding his open teammates. Jackson finishing with a team-high five, and overall the Badgers finished with 13 to seven turnovers.
Keifer Sykes led the Phoenix in scoring for a second consecutive year against Wisconsin, finishing with 20 points and was the only player for Green Bay to score in double digits. Despite giving up 20 points to Sykes, 14 of his 20 points came in the first half, as Sykes finished the game 9-for-17.
With Kaminsky and Hayes causing the bigs of Green Bay to get into foul trouble, the Phoenix missed their aggressive play from their post players. Greg Mays scored 14 points in the opener, but fouled out midway though the second half and managed only eight points.
Even if Sykes was able to get dribble penetration or get the ball into the low block, chances were low that he was going to get an easy shot off, especially with Kaminsky registering a career-high seven blocks. With Wisconsin making life difficult for Green Bay, the Phoenix finished the game 23-for-65 (35.4 percent) from the field.
With Green Bay’s bigs not having success and with the Badgers’ defense wearing Sykes down, it ultimately forced Green Bay to start to settling for 3-point shots. With Green Bay going 2-for-12, the Badgers were able to build their deficit as large as 27 points.
Wisconsin has done a good job of staying disciplined on the defensive side so far this season. Even though the Badgers were only able to force the Phoenix into six turnovers, converting their miscues into seven points, Wisconsin didn’t commit any foolish fouls (13 personal fouls). It was good seeing the Badgers continue to play smart with their hands and didn’t reach at all when it came to Sykes if he was driving.
As expected it was Wisconsin’s toughest challenge thus far and the Badgers played well. The versatility of Wisconsin’s bigs proved to be too much for Green Bay, which succumbed to foul trouble and were outrebounded 45-31.
As impressive as Hayes and Kaminsky were scoring the basket, they were equally impressive collecting rebounds, proving key in helping Wisconsin win the rebounding battle. Kaminsky led the team with a career-high 15 rebounds and register his third consecutive double-double to start the season.
Hayes continues to do a good job of rebounding by collecting 11, nine of which were defensive rebounds and eight coming in the first half. Hayes consistently continues to do a good job of boxing out and finding ways on how he can get his hands on the rebound.
Duje Dukan returned from his NCAA suspension and played well for his first game back, finishing the game with five points and six rebounds, which were both highs among the reserves. Vitto Brown did come into the game before Dukan but struggled as he was pulled within a minute of being on the floor.
Brown was able to grab a defensive rebound before losing concentration and allowing the ball to be stripped from behind and go off him out of bounds. Brown stayed in the game despite the careless turnover. Off of Brown’s turnovers, the Phoenix went back at Brown, beat him off the dribble and forced him to foul instead of giving up an easy layup. With Brown making two poor plays back to back, Bo Ryan decided to yank him.
Game MVP: Nigel Hayes. Kaminsky played well but Hayes was key in helping Wisconsin pull away by knocking down two critical 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the second half, which helped put Wisconsin up 19 points. Hayes helped stretch the court to help set up Dekker and Kaminsky be productive on offense and set himself up as well, finishing 8-for-11 from the field and a career-high 25 points. Throughout the game it was obvious that his versatility was something the Phoenix weren’t able to defend on a consistent basis. With Hayes being able to hit the mid-range shot and consistently getting to the free throw line, him adding a 3-point shot to his arsenal has taken his game to a new level.