Wisconsin’s offense was not pretty at times but found a way when they needed to come up with a basket. It also helped that Wisconsin found balance scoring amongst its starters, as four players reached double figures. Sam Dekker led the way with 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field. Frank Kaminsky was second with 16 points, Nigel Hayes had 14 (12 in the first half) and Bronson Koenig finished with 12.
Overall Wisconsin shot 22-for-51 (43.1 percent) from the field and 7-for-23 (30.4 percent) from 3-point range, which was the lowest percentage from three over the last seven games, but the Badgers were able to consistently get to the free throw line. UW finished 21-for-29 (72.4 percent) in the game, and Koenig and Hayes each attempted eight free throws and combined to make 12 of 16.
Despite Oregon pressuring Wisconsin the entire game and keeping the score close throughout the second half, the Badgers kept their composure and didn’t allow the Ducks to hurry them on offense. As a result, Wisconsin finished with 11 assists, six turnovers and had only one player commit more than one turnover (Duje Dukan – 2). While Koenig finished with one turnover in 28 minutes, senior Josh Gasser finished turnover free for the 19th time this season.
Wisconsin was able to get Elgin Cook into foul trouble with three fouls in the first half, which helped open up the lane in spurts. UW finished with 24 points in the paint and 10 offensive rebounds (seven offensive), leading to eight second-chance points.
Similar to last year’s game in Milwaukee, Joseph Young was able to find success against Wisconsin. While he finished with a game-high 30 points, his fifth 30-point game on the year, Young needed 25 shot attempts to get there (12 made field goals). Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan decided to rotate as many guys on Young as possible, as Gasser, Hayes, Koenig and Zak Showalter all saw a little time on him.
None of the four really found success against Young but didn’t allow him to go on any long scoring runs like he did against Wisconsin last year or vs. Oklahoma State Friday night. Young’s best run came in the first half. After he hit a 3-pointer of Nigel Hayes for his first field goal at 9:22 (starting 0-for-5), Young scored the next eight Oregon points and 14 of Ducks’ final 19 to cut UW’s halftime lead to 31-28.
Once the second half started, Wisconsin didn’t allow Young to score points on consecutive possessions until the final minute of the game with the outcome already decided.
While Young got his scoring, Wisconsin held the rest of Oregon’s offense in check. Jalil Abdul-Bassit finished with 12 points but didn’t get into double figures until his 3-pointer at the final buzzer. Jordan Bell and Dwayne Benjamin each had eight points on a combined 7-for-11 shooting from the field, while Cook – a Milwaukee native – finished 1-for-8. Overall Oregon shot 26-for-59 (44.1 percent) from the field.
Wisconsin did a good job of making sure the Ducks didn’t get a chance to push the ball up the floor during the game, which held them to only four fast-break points. Wisconsin also turned eight turnovers into nine points and register three steals, one each by Gasser, Hayes and Kaminsky.
Wisconsin was able to control the tempo of the game better than they did last year, forcing the Ducks to play at a somewhat uncomfortable pace and dictate the style of the game from the beginning.
While they built leads to as many as 11 in the first half and eight in the second half, Wisconsin’s offense could never find a way to shake the Ducks. Oregon tied the game at 52 with 5:54 to go, but the Badgers calmly responded with a 6-0 run. After that point Oregon never got closer than four points.Not only did Wisconsin close the game going 4-for-7 from the field, the Badgers got to the free throw line and went 11-for-14 over the final 5:27. Koenig led the way, going 7-for-8.
Wisconsin received nice production from its bench with Showalter (five points) and Dukan (four points) each playing at least 13 minutes. Showalter’s minutes were valuable in the first half with Koenig on the bench with foul trouble, as he secured a career-high five rebounds with 7:48 remaining in the first and added two assists in the game.
Showalter was a perfect 2-for-2 in the second half, including only his second 3-pointer on just his 14th attempt of the season, and gave the Badgers some timely offense when his teammates were struggling to find the bottom of the net. Showalter’s 5-0 run came after the Badgers had made only one basket in nearly five minutes, helping keep Oregon at a distance and likely giving him some confidence as Wisconsin moved forward.
For a second straight game Wisconsin was a little uncharacteristic when it came to fouling. The Badgers committed 13 team fouls. Even so, Oregon only went 5-for-7 from the free throw line and didn’t attempt its first second-half free throw until there was 36 seconds remaining.
Game MVP: Sam Dekker. The junior provided the answer when Wisconsin couldn’t seem to shake Oregon for good. After he admitted to pressing in the first half (going scoreless over the final 18:36), Dekker really got things going when the score was tied at 52. Scoring five of the team’s next six points, he registered a layup off a Kaminsky steal and hit a 3-pointer off a Gasser assist on the ensuing possession.
Appearing more composed in the second half, Dekker scored 14 points on 5 of 8 shooting (2-for-5 from three) in the second half, giving him a shooting percentage over 50 percent for the second straight game. He also finished the game with five rebounds and one block.