Helmigk makes opportunity count

Austrian center enjoys strong start

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In four games prior to Saturday's matchup with Detroit, Andreas Helmigk had scored six points and grabbed three rebounds in 19 minutes total.


Helmigk, though, was awarded his first start Saturday and responded in dynamic fashion with a career-high 12 points, eight in the first half, to help Wisconsin to a 68-42 win.


"I'm feeling pretty comfortable in practice, but during the last couple games it wasn't there for me," Helmigk said. "Starting gave me the confidence to make the shots in the game too."


Helmigk made 5 of 6 from the field and also hit his two free throw attempts.


"I think it was all about being open and the fact that he had the confidence to knock it down," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.


The sophomore center has played sparingly in his brief UW career, averaging 1.2 points and 6.7 minutes in 26 games last season. When he had the opportunity, Helmigk often looked uncomfortable, never quite finding a rhythm, especially on the offensive end.


Ryan, though, thought Helmigk could use a start, and the feeling paid off.


"He's had some injuries (this season). Who knows if he would have been healthy what would have happened in other games," Ryan said.


Helmigk started strong, taking advantage of a Titan miscue to pick up a steal on Detroit's first possession of the game. Just more than three minutes into the contest, Helmigk notched his first points, drawing a foul in the post and hitting two free throws to give the Badgers a 6-5 lead.


Early on, Helmigk did his damage underneath the basket, drawing three fouls and grabbing three rebounds in the first five minutes, 48 seconds. Helmigk was in the right position throughout the game and looked very comfortable in the post both offensively and defensively.


After a five-minute breather, Helmigk re-entered the game with nine minutes, five seconds remaining in the first half and quickly converted a layup to push Wisconsin to a 19-9 edge. He then proceeded to show off a perimeter game, knocking down a pair of jumpers from just inside the three-point line to match the Titans' scoring effort, preserving a ten-point lead, 23-13.


"I think Andreas coming in giving us a boost, knocking his down, they obviously played off of him," Ryan said. "The basket had to look pretty big to him cause he was getting some pretty good looks."


Helmigk played 22 productive minutes Saturday. He looked fluid and confident, making good decisions with the basketball as well as knocking down open shots. In addition to eight points and three rebounds, he also had two assists, each in the first half, including a strong ball reversal to set up Zach Morley for a baseline jump shot.


"I'm just working pretty hard in practice every day," Helmigk said. "I just imagined myself in practice. I'm glad that I had the chance—that coach gave me a chance. I made something out of it."

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