Wisconsin’s first two-point field goal from two point range came with 4:01 remaining in the first half. That tells you all you need to know about the struggles of Wisconsin’s offense. The Badgers settled early and often for 3-point looks, a lot of which didn’t fall. It wasn’t until that Vitto Brown’s mid-range jumper fell that the Badgers broke a 0-for-10 start from inside the arc, as Wisconsin finished the first half 2-for-14 from two-point range and 6-for-30 from the field in the first half.
Shooting poorly is rarely a recipe for success and it didn’t help matters that Wisconsin went seven minutes in the first half without a field goal, going 0-for-9 from the field and 0-for-4 from 3-point range. UW scored the game’s first points on a 3-pointer on its first possession and then watched Oklahoma scored 15 straight.
Wisconsin didn’t fare much better shooting in the second half, either, shooting 27 percent and finishing the game 16-for-68 (23.5 percent) from the field. Nigel Hayes was the only Wisconsin player to reach double figures with 20 points on 5-for-17 shooting. Bronson Koenig was second with nine points but shot very poorly - going 3-for-18 from the field and 3-for-14 from 3-point range. UW’s three other starters combined for 14 points on 6-for-28 (21.4 percent).
The amount of misses did lead to a plethora of offensive rebounds, but the 21 offensive rebounds turned into just 12 second-chance points due to Oklahoma forcing the Badgers to settle for shots outside the paint. UW finished with just 10 points inside the lane, and the 3-point misses created long rebounds that created transition opportunities for the Sooners.
Oklahoma swarming the ball whenever it was passed into the interior caused Wisconsin to settle for long jump shots; good looks for the most part that didn’t find the bottom of the net. Wisconsin shot 7-for-33 (21.2 percent) from three in the game. The 33 3-point attempts were the most by a Badgers team since the road win against Marquette last year.
The only positive was Wisconsin finished with only seven turnovers, breaking a skid of three straight games with at least 10 turnovers. Oklahoma finished the game with eight points off of Wisconsin’s miscues.
Wisconsin’s defense made it too easy for Oklahoma’s offense to have high percentage shots, as the Sooners shot 26-for-61 (42.6 percent) from the field. Wisconsin did well defending All-American Buddy Hield, holding him to a season-low 12 points on 16 shot attempts, but appeared to complete forget to defend Ryan Spangler.
Spangler registered a season high 20 points on 7-for-9 (77 percent) shooting and secured 14 rebounds. Wisconsin consistently struggled to rotate defensively, allowing Spangler to attempt multiple uncontested shots. One other player for Oklahoma reached double figures as Isaiah Cousins registered 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting from the field.
Wisconsin allowed Oklahoma to register 34 points in the paint, the fifth time a team has scored at least 30 in the paint against the Badgers. Hield was able to find his way by driving the ball against Wisconsin’s defense, and Oklahoma found points in transition coming off missed shots or turnovers when the Badgers couldn’t get back to defend.
Wisconsin couldn’t do the same – forcing only five turnovers, three by Hield and only eight points off turnovers (three on the fast break).
A positive was UW held a good rebounding team to 11 offensive rebounds, three coming on the first three possessions. Oklahoma finished with 12 second-chance points.
Wisconsin did cut a 15-point halftime lead down to nine points, but a pair of Koenig turnovers on back-to-back offensive possessions –leading to four OU points - killed any hope of sustaining what little momentum UW was building. Wisconsin got no closer than 12 points because, like the first half, it went cold and couldn’t find a way of coming up with a critical basket, nor stringing together stops on the defensive end.
When UW was down 12 with 6:20 to go, UW missed its next eight shot attempts to see the deficit balloon to 22, the largest in the game. In that 4:05 stretch without a field goal, four of its shot attempts were from 3-point range and none were even attempted around the basket.
The only player off the bench to score, Khalil Iverson registered five points on 2-for-3 shooting (the only UW player to shoot over 30 percent). Iverson’s 27 minutes on the floor matched starter Zak Showalter and surpassed that of Brown. Even with all the minutes on the court, Iverson didn’t register a rebound and managed only one block.
Wisconsin pushed its streak of rebounding opponents to seven, beating Oklahoma on the glass, 46-44. Hayes led the way with 11, giving him his first double-double of the season, Brown was second with nine, and Happ finished the game with seven.
Game MVP: Nigel Hayes. Hayes wins this slightly by default, as his 5-for-17 shooting (2-for-8 from 3-point range) are becoming a concerning trend. Hayes is shooting 36.6 percent from the floor, worst on the team, but is doing other things to augment his game. Hayes had seven of his 11 rebounds on the offensive glass (five in the second half) and was one of only two UW players to get to the free throw line (8-for-11) He also had four assists to zero turnovers.