The offensive plan for Greg Gard was simple: get the ball in the paint and attack the interior of Florida A&M’s defense. It was a plan that worked effectively considering 20 of Wisconsin’s 43 first-half points came in the paint. The Badgers finished the game with 40 points in the paint and the ability to settle for high quality shots resulted in Wisconsin shooting 52.3 percent (34-for-65) from the field.
Nine players for Wisconsin scored in the first half and 13 different players overall for the Badgers finished in the scoring column. D'Mitrik Trice led all scorers with 14 points on 5-for-8 in 17 minutes of work. Vitto Brown and Charles Thomas each scored 11 points on a combined 8-for-16 shooting from the field. Brown reached double figures for the second time over the last three games and had eight of his 11 points came in the first half. Bronson Koenig and Ethan Happ each had eight points, as Koenig’s eight points all came in the first half. Wisconsin’s bench registered a season-high 52 points as eight different players for the bench scored.
Although there was success in the paint, there were instances where Wisconsin settled for a three before the Badgers touched the post. Jordan Hill (six points) in particular was guilty of this twice, as he attempted two long 3s that both clanked off the rim. Happ was able to come down with the offensive rebound on the first miss, which resulted in a made three by Trice. Trice’s three represented three of Wisconsin’s 18 second-chance points. Thomas led Wisconsin with three offensive rebounds as the Badgers finished the game with 15.
Wisconsin committed 13 turnovers but Florida A&M couldn’t capitalize, cashing them into four points. The Badgers didn’t start the second half strong in terms of taking care of the ball, considering they had four turnovers within the first four minutes of the second half.
Despite the high amount of turnovers, Wisconsin still managed to finish the game with 23 assists on 34 made field goals. Nigel Hayes once again was able to demonstrate his passing ability with four assists and consistently finding his open teammate. Hayes wasn’t needed to score often, finishing with six points, but he made all three of his shot attempts.
Wisconsin made life difficult for the Rattlers by consistently finding a way to contest a shot, holding Florida A&M to 25.9 percent (14-for-54) from the field. After shooting 9-for-29 (31.3 percent) from the field in the first half it didn’t seem like the Rattlers shooting could get much worse. But credit to Wisconsin’s defense for holding the visitors to only five made field goals on 25 attempts in the second half.
Ultimately scoring droughts hurt Florida A&M. The Rattlers’ first made field goal of the second half didn’t come until the 14:36 mark. By that point Wisconsin was up 28 points. The Rattlers would have to wait another 6:44 before they could make their second field goal. By that time Gard had already put in his reserves.
Brendon Myles and Elijah Mays each had nine points for Florida A&M, but Mays only went 3-for-12 from the field. In fact only one Florida A&M player made four shots from the field (Justin Ravenal, eight points).
With the Rattlers struggling to shoot the ball, it isn’t surprising that Wisconsin limited Florida A&M to eight points in the paint, block off passing lanes to cause 15 turnovers and hold the Rattlers to four offensive rebounds. Wisconsin was able to cash the miscues into 19 points and win the rebounding battle 53-21.
Gard has to be happy with the minute distribution and the fact he could go deep into his bench midway through the second half, considering Koenig led Wisconsin in minutes with 22. After eight days off Wisconsin made sure Florida A&M wasn’t able to stay in the game for long.
Gard was afforded the opportunity to rely on his bench thanks to there being no drop off once the reserves were inserted in the lineup. They were active and made sure Florida A&M couldn’t crawl back into the game by consistently finding ways of stringing successful offensive possessions together.
Although Hayes and Happ combined to score 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field, it was Brown and Thomas who stepped in their place. Brown was attacking the rim and finding driving lanes to attack. He had a productive first half, scoring a season high eight points in 14 minutes of work.
As he has been throughout the season, Thomas was active in his time on the floor. Again hunting for his shot and working on offense without the ball, Thomas’ teammates did well of finding him where he could simply lay the ball in. Outside of Thomas’ 11 points, he also had five rebounds in 15 minutes of work.
Alex Illikainen was able to break his scoring slump by drawing an and-one play in the second half. He missed his free throw attempt but it was good for him to break his shooting slump and could serve as a confidence boost going forward.
Wisconsin’s playing tough defense allowed the Badgers to come up with nine steals, as all five starters for Wisconsin registered one steal and the bench produced another four. Brevin Pritzl was able to register one of the steals, which he cashed in on an impressive one-handed dunk on a fast break. Pritzl’s dunk started a mini scoring run for the redshirt freshman as he registered six points on 2-for-3 shooting. Outside of Pritzl’s mini run, Andy Van Vliet had one to close out the second half by hitting his final three shot attempts from three, finishing the game with nine points.
Overall Wisconsin shot 12-for-27 (44.4 percent) from three.
Game MVP: D'Mitrik Trice. It was a team effort by Wisconsin to register a dominant win over a clearly overmatched team, but Trice once again was consistent in his play. Helping guide Wisconsin’s scoring outburst, which allowed the Badgers to shoot 52.3 percent from the field, Trice led Wisconsin in scoring with 14 points and hit a team high four 3-pointers on five attempts. Trice also was able to keep the basketball moving to help open up other shot attempts, as he finished the game with one assist, zero turnovers and one steal.