Wisconsin was able to come out strong on the offensive end in the first half, finding ways of making a variety of shots for a robust 53.6 (15-for-28) percent from the floor. The second half was a different story with the Badgers struggling through scoring droughts and being limited to only eight second-half field goals. Despite the shooting woes in the second half, Wisconsin shot 23-for-52 (44.2) from the field in the game.
Even though Wisconsin couldn’t duplicate it’s shooting percentage after halftime, they did manage to get to the free throw line 26 times, the third highest number of attempts since Big Ten play started. Not surprising, Wisconsin made the most of its free throw opportunities, converted 21 from the charity stripe. The made free throws helped break up scoring droughts and allowed Wisconsin to continue building its lead, as Iowa struggled to find rhythm in the second half also.
Frank Kaminsky led Wisconsin by going 8-for-9 from the line and scoring a game-high 24 points – his second straight game scoring at least 20. Three other starters for Wisconsin reached double digits - Nigel Hayes had 14 (his fifth straight double-digit game) and Sam Dekker and Josh Gasser scored 11 points. Bronson Koenig had eight points, the first time the sophomore failed to score in double digits since being inserted into the starting lineup.
Like they did in the first game against UW, Iowa wanted to pressure Wisconsin on defense, but managed to only force six turnovers, giving them seven in two games against UW. The combination of Gasser and Koenig committed no turnovers after each playing at least 35 minutes. Hayes led Wisconsin with three turnovers, which ties a season high for him. Iowa was able to come up with four steals on the day and converted the Badger miscues into eight points.
Iowa has the length and size to matchup with Wisconsin’s front court and the Hawkeyes put an emphasis on trying to get the ball down low early in the game, as they registered 12 of their first 14 points in the paint. Adam Woodbury was responsible for Iowa’s start, scoring the six of the Hawkeyes’ first 10 points, but Wisconsin’s interior defense started to do a much better job of protecting the rim as the game wore on. Woodbury scored only two points the rest of the game and Iowa finished the game with 32 points in the paint after having 22 at halftime.
Despite Aaron White having an injured right shoulder and not playing 100 percent, he was one of Iowa’s most effective players on offense, as he led the team with 15 points on 5-for-11 shooting. Gabe Olaseni was the only other Hawkeye to reach double figures with 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting.
At times Wisconsin struggled switching off Iowa’s screens, as Kaminsky ended up guarding guard Mike Gesell and was beaten off the dribble. Hayes in particular was able to switch off well, as he could go from either defending Woodbury or White on one defensive possession and not allow either much production against him.
Like Wisconsin, Iowa was hitting on all cylinders in the first half (shooting 16-for-25 (64 percent) from the flood), but managed to make seven field goals on 23 attempts in the second half. Wisconsin did a much better job of tightening up its defense, contesting shots and rebounding. Wisconsin limited Iowa to seven offensive rebounds, and the Hawkeyes didn’t register their first offensive rebound until the 3:33 mark of the first half. With Wisconsin doing such a terrific job of boxing out, the Hawkeyes were only able to cash in seven points off of their second chances.
With four ties and three lead changes early on, it was evident Wisconsin wasn’t going to win by 32. But after the 12 minute media timeout, things started to change in favor of Wisconsin. The score was tied at 17, but Duje Dukan was able to hit both of his free throw attempts out of the timeout to give Wisconsin the lead for good.
Wisconsin built its halftime lead of six points to 11 at 47-36 and never let Iowa get closer than five. Despite Wisconsin only managing one made field goal attempt in a span of seven minutes, 10 seconds, the Hawkeyes couldn’t put a sequence of baskets together. After Hayes broke the scoring drought with a thunderous dunk, the Badgers rebuilt their one time double-digit lead and kept the Hawkeyes at a distance.
Wisconsin scored 26 points in the paint, had 16 second-chance points and managed to knock down seven 3-pointers to keep Iowa’s defense honest so they couldn’t consistently collapse on one of Wisconsin’s front court players.
The Wisconsin bench was able to find production against Iowa with Dukan, Zak Showalter and Vitto Brown each had two points on a combined 2-for-6 shooting from the field (all in the first half). Even though the Wisconsin reserves were able to take some pressure off the starters, they still need to try and find more production in the scoring category. Showalter was second to Hayes (three) in assists with two and Brown recorded one of the five steals for Wisconsin.
Game MVP: Frank Kaminsky. When Wisconsin needed an answer, Kaminsky was able to provide it with either scoring a basket, making his free throws or grabbing a team-high nine rebounds. Kaminsky was key in helping Wisconsin win the rebounding battle (35-24) as he was able to consistently box one of Iowa’s players to get the rebound. He also did a tremendous job of keeping offensive possessions alive for Wisconsin, as he was able to tip the ball out multiple times to help reset the offense.
It appeared that the game might be a rough one for Kaminsky on the defensive end, as he picked up a quick foul a minute into the game and allowed Woodbury to consistently get some easy looks around the hoop. That quickly changed when Kaminsky became more assertive.
Kaminsky put together an all-around game for Wisconsin, playing solid in the post, hitting perimeter shots and getting to the free throw line. Scoring a minimum of 20 points has started to become a norm for the talented center, reaching that mark seven times this season and four times in the past five games.