Men's basketball notes: Point guards step up

Rebounding, free throw shooting key win over UNC Greensboro

MADISON – In Wisconsin's 85-53 win over the UNC Greensboro Thursday evening at the Kohl Center, the Badgers received very solid play from not only the starting point guard, senior Sharif Chambliss, but also the primary backup for the night, freshman Michael Flowers.

Despite missing on all seven attempts from the field and not tallying a point in 28 minutes, Chambliss dished out nine assists, grabbed four rebounds and committed only one turnover in the process.

"Sharif was our decoy offensively," Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. "He was drawing people to him and finding other guys. About that 9 to 1, that's not bad. Devin [Harris] would have been proud of that."

"Can a guy have a bad night percentage-wise and still have a good basketball game?" Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. "He [Chambliss] had a good basketball, very poor shooting. Those are going to happen. The rest of the guys picked him up, shot a good percentage."

In just 10 minutes off the bench Thursday, Flowers stepped up and played strong as well in the backup role for the Badgers. Flowers contributed six points on 2-of-2 shooting from 3-point territory and added two rebounds, one assist and one steal.

Flowers was much of the relief for Chambliss in the game Thursday night considering sophomore Kammron Taylor's ineffectiveness throughout. In five minutes, Taylor missed his only attempt from the floor and committed three turnovers.

Controlling the line

Coming into the contest, the Badgers knew the team that went to the free throw line more would gain a major edge in the match up. To its credit, head coach Bo Ryan's group drew 21 fouls on UNC Greensboro and attempted 30 free throws in the game.

"We were active," Ryan said. "We did a great job pump-faking, getting them out of position and getting to the line. "

Uncharacteristic of the Badgers, the team only hit 43.3 percent of its free throws (13), including connecting on 6-of-19 in a rough shooting first half. This inability to convert free throws plagued UW and prevented the Badgers from ever blowing the game open throughout the first 20 minutes.

Defensively, the Badgers held a generally aggressive Spartans offense to 21 attempts from the charity stripe. UNCG hit 11 free throws.

Hitting the glass

The Badgers absolutely dominated the boards, offensively and defensively, Thursday night against UNCG. Wisconsin out-rebounded the Spartans 50-23. More impressive however was the fact that UW nearly matched UNCG's entire rebounding total (23) just on the offensive glass (22).

"We knew they liked to rebound," UW sophomore forward Alando Tucker said. "That's one thing that we knew if we were going to win this game, we would have to limit second chance opportunities. We weren't going to let them get anything easy or any second chance opportunities to score and get easy points."

Tucker led all Badgers with 15 total rebounds as five UW players had at least four boards in the game. Freshman Brian Butch added nine including a team-high six offensive rebounds.

Subsequently, the Badgers also had an edge in the second-chance points category, scoring 16 off second, third and even fourth shots at times during the game.

Defensively, the Badgers only gave up five offensive rebounds and only six second-chance points.

Bench plays big minutes

Five Badgers scored off the bench Thursday night, led by Butch's 11 points. In 20 minutes, Butch also added nine rebounds, two assists and a steal.

In addition to Butch and Flowers' performance, junior Ray Nixon and senior Andreas Helmigk also performed well for Wisconsin. Nixon scored five points in 11 minutes and Helmigk chipped in six points in 10 minutes.

Old friend returns for the Badgers

For the first time this season, former Badger Devin Harris made an appearance at a UW men's basketball game. Harris, who is off for a couple days from the Dallas Mavericks, was announced to a standing ovation early in the first half.

"It's good to see the guys play and good to be back home," Harris said. "I miss everything, the excitement of being out there with the guys and being home." Throughout the game, Harris sat at the scorer's table next to the Badgers' coaches and often times huddled with the team during timeouts.

"I was just trying to pass on some things that I see that they could use a little help with. But they're doing fine," Harris said at halftime. "They're struggling a little bit with their shooting, but they'll bounce back."

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