Game Day Grades: Buffalo

MADISON - A better finish erased the memory of a slow start for No.6 Wisconsin, as senior Frank Kaminsky's fifth double-double of the season led the Badgers to a 12-point win over Buffalo. BadgerNation hands out the grades.

Offense: B

It wasn’t pretty at times for the Wisconsin offense, but the Badgers were able to find a way to overcome a slow start in which they shot 31.3 percent from the field in the first half. Frank Kaminsky was the only Badger who could find any success on the offensive end, scoring 14 of his game high 25 points in the first half on 5-for-10 shooting. In fact only four other Badgers were able to make a field goal in the first half, and Duje Dukan was the only player outside of Kaminsky to make multiple field goals in the first half (2-for-4).

Sam Dekker was the only other Badger to reach double digits in scoring (13 points), all coming in the second half. Dekker didn’t register a point until 13:33 mark in the second half, as he missed his first five shots of the game. The shots by Dekker weren’t bad and weren’t forced but simply not falling. But after that shot by Dekker, he scored eight of the Badgers next 12 points, which helped put the Badgers up 15 points. Hayes was third in scoring with nine points on 4-for-8 shooting.

Despite the poor offensive performance in the first half, Wisconsin started finding its rhythm toward the end of the first half, which carried over to the second half.

With Wisconsin falling down as many as six points in the first half, the Badgers had a 7-2 run to close the first half to cut the deficit to one at halftime. Wisconsin shot 15-for-27 (55.6 percent) in the second half and finished 25-for-59 (42.4 percent) from the field. UW also struggled to hit open looks from 3-point range, going 2-for-11 in the first half (18.2 percent) and 6-for-20 (30 percent) for the game.

Wisconsin started to pull away when they were able to consistently get the basketball down low, which meant Kaminsky doing damage around the hoop. Buffalo didn’t have an answer for him when Kaminsky utilized one of his vast arrays of low post moves or executed a hook shot. Kaminsky was one of the key reasons why the Badgers scored 28 points down low. It would have been nice if UW fed him more than they did in the first half, but Buffalo did a good job of taking the post away.

Defense: B

A tale of two different halves for the Badger defense, Wisconsin tightened the grip defensively, causing Buffalo’s shooting percentage to drop from 40.7 percent in the opening 20 minutes to 29.6 percent in the second half. The Bulls finished the game 19-for-54 (35.2 percent) from the field.

Four different players for the Bulls were able to score in double figures, Justin Moss led Buffalo with 14 points but needed 15 field goal attempts. Germantown-native Lamonte Bearden was second with 13 points on 30 percent shooting from the field, Shannon Evans had 12 points, and Xavier Ford had all 11 points off the bench.

Wisconsin’s size and length bothered Buffalo at times and caused turnovers. The Bulls had nine turnovers and suffered through a handful of scoring droughts. Buffalo had one scoring drought of four minutes in the first half, had only one field goal over the last five minutes of the first half and 6:46 without a field goal in the second half. During that last drought, the UW defense held the Bulls to eight possessions without a field goal.

Overall: B

Wisconsin’s final nonconference game was a good preview for what is going to come as Wisconsin begins Big Ten play. It wasn’t a pretty, but the Badgers found a way to win with a strong second-half performance.

Wisconsin did go through a scoring drought in the first half that lasted 5:53 without a field goal, which allowed Buffalo to build its lead. But Wisconsin never panicked and kept on trying to find success on the offensive end. Wisconsin gave itself second chances throughout the game with 12 offensive rebounds, eight of which came in the first half. Buffalo couldn’t consistently box out Wisconsin on the offensive end and UW scored 10 points off of their second-chance opportunities.

Buffalo entered the game outrebounding its opponents by two boards per game, but UW’s size led to a 37-32 edge on the glass for the Badgers. Wisconsin did give up 10 offensive rebounds, five of which came to Moss that led to 13 points off second chances.

The Badgers’ bench produced 10 points with Dukan and Bronson Koenig each scoring five points. Dukan in particular provided a spark in the first half, registering a block and had two nice hustle plays to either keep a possession alive or save another one. All of Dukan’s points came in the first half but he scored the last five points of the half to cut the deficit to one. Dukan’s first points of the night came off a drive and he was also able to draw a foul off a jumper to convert the three-point play.

Wisconsin did a good job of taking care of the basketball only turning it over eight times in the game. Dukan had a team leading three turnovers, two of which came in the second half. Despite the turnovers, Wisconsin’s defense was able to hold Buffalo to eight points off its turnovers.

Game MVP: Frank Kaminsky. Kaminsky was one of the main reasons why Wisconsin was able to keep it close in the first half. He also was a key reason why Wisconsin was able to pull away in the second half. The senior scored 14 of the Badgers’ first 21 points and scored Wisconsin’s first four points in the second half to help Wisconsin take control of the game.

Kaminsky recorded his Big Ten-leading fifth double-double of the season and his seventh of his career with 11 rebounds. Kaminsky’s length also helped him record six of the team’s season-high nine blocks. When Wisconsin needed a basket, it was Kaminsky who was coming up with the answer. He was able to do the same on defense forcing multiple times Moss to alter his shot.

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