Triples galore

Badgers making long-range shots at record pace

The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team thrived with the 3-point shot again Sunday, making 12 of 28 attempts in a dramatic 62-59 win over Michigan State. By way of contrast, the Badgers were 9 of 27 on 2-point attempts.

The frequency and accuracy of the Badgers' 3-point displays have varied throughout the season but there is no question that perimeter shooting is integral to Wisconsin's offensive attack. Sunday's season-high 28 3-point attempts marked the eighth time this season the Badgers have taken at least 20 triples. It was the fifth time they made at least 10 3s in a game and the third time more than half their point total came from 3-pointers.

Senior guards Clayton Hanson, who made 5 of 7 triples, and Sharif Chambliss, who was 4 of 10, including 4 of 6 in the second half, were the headliners.

"After you hit a couple you start hunting them down," Hanson said after Sunday's game.

The Badgers have been hunting down 3s all season long.

Wisconsin's single-season school record of 225 made 3-pointers (set in 1994) could be challenged this year. The Badgers have made 115 triples in 15 games, a pace that would give them 222 if UW plays only 29 games (this conservatively assumes one Big Ten Tournament game and one NCAA Tournament game).

Chambliss and Hanson have made 55 3-pointers combined on 126 attempts (44 percent), but plenty of Badgers are getting in on the act. All five starters are shooting better than 35 percent from 3-point range. The starting frontcourt of seniors Mike Wilkinson and Zach Morley and sophomore Alando Tucker is a combined 40 of 99 (40 percent).

In four conference games Wisconsin is second in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting at 42 percent. That is up from a 38 percent clip in non-conference play.

The Badgers have not always flourished beyond the arc this year. They made just 3 of 18 triples in a 74-61 loss at Indiana, their only conference defeat this season. One game later they took just 11 3-pointers, a season-low, in a 72-66 win over Ohio State.

The Buckeyes, however, played Wilkinson one-on-one in the post and the Badger big man went off for a career-high 29 points.

Michigan State chose to collapse inside, so the Badgers burned them deep.

"If there is a collapsing, rotating, sinking, pinching defensive team….You have to make sure you make good decisions with the ball," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said Sunday. "What we did was we caught in some rhythm. When the shot goes in it all looks good, doesn't it?"

As a result of the Spartans' game plan, and Wisconsin's execution, the Badgers scored just 18 points in the paint Sunday.

"We touched the post quite a bit but they sank and rotated and collapsed and chested and did some good things to keep us from getting points out of the post," Ryan said. "Instead we used the post to transport the ball, which isn't all bad."

Especially when players like Hanson and Chambliss are ready to deliver 3s in bunches.

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