Although Wisconsin shot a respectable 43.6 percent on 17-for-39 shooting from the field, the offense had its struggles, particularly to begin the game. The Badgers started the first 10:19 of the game shooting 3-for-12 from the field but found a way to finish the half strong by shooting 50 percent from the field (6-for-12).
Frank Kaminsky got the Badgers going on offense by scoring eight of the final 16 points in the first half. Kaminsky was able to get his offense going either by drawing a foul and getting to the free throw line or finding a way to use one of his post moves, as Wisconsin finished the game with 26 points in the paint.
With Purdue having the size to match up with Wisconsin down low, the Boilers were able to take the paint away from Wisconsin at times, forcing the Badgers to settle for shots from the perimeter. UW struggled shooting from the perimeter against the Boilers (3-for-14 (21.4 percent) from three), but were able to find open shots. Wisconsin was able to use good ball movement to work for the best shot on the floor and just didn’t get the shots to fall.
Wisconsin was unable to generate a lot of second-chances points against Purdue’s interior size, as four offensive rebounds resulted in six points. The frontcourt of Wisconsin was able to battle down low with Purdue’s bigs but at times caught themselves in poor position.
The Badgers didn’t get any production from its bench, as the trio of Bronson Koenig, Duje Dukan, and Vitto Brown failed to score a single point. All three attempted a shot but combined to go 0-for-3. Koenig was able to register an assist but each Brown and Dukan committed one turnover. The Badgers finished the game with eight miscues.
Purdue scored 38 of its 55 points in the paint and, not surprisingly, it was Isaac Haas and A.J. Hammons who were able to find the success. The two 7-footers combined for 22 points on 10-for-17 shooting from the field. Purdue’s success around the hoop helped them shoot 51 percent (25-for-49) from the field.
Although Purdue scored a lot of points in the paint, the Badgers made the Boilermakers work for their points. Wisconsin finished the game with four blocks and did a good job for the majority of the game of not fouling around the hoop, even with the physicality. Purdue only went 3-for-7 from the line – all in the second half.
Jon Octeus was the only player outside of Haas and Hammons to reach double digits, as he scored 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting. It was Octeus fifth straight game to score double figures. Kendall Stephens came into the game as Purdue’s leading scoring, but Gasser did a good job of holding Stephens to only seven points. Stephens did get into foul trouble (four fouls) that limited him to only 12 minutes, but never seemed comfortable on the floor. The credit goes to Gasser for that.
The success in the paint meant Purdue didn’t have to settle for too many perimeter shots, going only 2-for-5 from 3-point range. The Boilermakers also committed 12 turnovers (six off UW steals) that led to 17 points for the Badgers.
It was not the prettiest of games but the Badgers found a way to grind out a win. Even though Wisconsin started the game off poorly from the field, the Badgers were able to get into a rhythm and shoot 53.3 percent from the field in the second half.
Kaminsky and Jackson were key in helping the Badgers take control of the game in the second half, as the duo combined to score 22 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field. As good as Kaminsky was from start to finish, he was particularly good at getting to the free throw line, attempting more free throw attempts (14) then field goal attempts (9). Kaminsky made 11 of his free throw attempts, and UW finished the game 25-for-31 from the charity stripe. The 25 made free throws were the second most this season (UW made 26 vs. Nicholls).
Purdue’s ability to match up with Wisconsin’s height forced Nigel Hayes to defend either Haas or Hammons down low. Hayes did a good job of fronting the post, making Purdue’s bigs work for the basketball and did a good job of cutting off on any passing lanes. Hayes struggled with his shooting (1-for-5) after making his opening 3-pointers, but was solid at the free throw line (4-for-4).
Like Hayes, Dekker also struggled from the field, only scoring six points, but became the 39th player in Wisconsin history to reach 1,000 points.
Game MVP: Josh Gasser. Being able to slow down Stephens was key and it prevented the 6-6 guard to get into any kind of rhythm on offense, but Gasser was also timely on the offensive end, helping the Badgers take control of the game in the first half. Gasser finished the game with a season high 15 points on 4-for-7 shooting and was consistently hustling to try and win the battle for any loose balls. Gasser delivered a combination of aggressive defense throughout the game, despite being in foul trouble, and register some big points in the second half.