Nankivil Provides Post Stability

Going 11-for-16 from the field and pouring in 24 points against a good defensive team, sophomore Keaton Nankivil was the star of Wisconsin's annual Red vs. White Scrimmage.

MADISON — A primary concern surrounding the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team is how the Badgers would be able to replace graduated 7-footers Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma.

Keaton Nankivil has officially done his part to help answer that question, at least for the first time in a game situation.

Nankivil was on fire Wednesday night at UW's Red-White scrimmage, pouring in 24 points and adding six rebounds to lead the Red team – mostly comprised of Badger reserves – to a 72-67 win at the Kohl Center.

The sophomore center from Madison Memorial High earned 27 minutes in the middle for the Red team, and might be competing with Red teammate Jon Leuer for UW's fifth starting player.

"Basically, it was his coming-out party," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "He was pretty much the difference-maker … Keaton just had his way."

Nankivil was 11-of-16 from the field, whereas Leuer struggled all night with his shots from inside and out, going 2-of-14 for five points in 30 minutes.

For the White squad, forward Marcus Landry led the way with 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting. At the moment, UW does not boast a lot of depth behind Landry at the four- and five-spots on the floor.

"We've still got a lot of work to do with the bigs in the post," Ryan said, "other than Keaton. He delivered pretty well."

The Red team was spurred by a 9-0 run midway through the second half to grab a 55-41 lead. White fought its way back, drawing within four in the closing minutes, but Red hit its late free throws – freshman guard Jordan Taylor hit both his attempts to put away the victory with 30 seconds remaining.

Ryan was most impressed with the ball security from his Red squad, which handed out 21 assists against just six turnovers. White had 18 helpers, but didn't help itself with 13 turnovers.

"The Red had almost a 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio," he boasted. "And the White wasn't bad … but that was the difference. Red took care of the ball a little bit better."

Junior guard Jason Bohannon shot pretty well – 3-of-5 from three-point land and 13 points – but keyed the Red offense with eight assists and just one turnover.

"He's a good passer, he's been practicing well that way, he finds guys, he's good at that," Ryan said. "And for the first time under the lights, that's pretty good. We didn't run very many special (plays); it was just the ball screen or the swing, and just getting him used to what it's going to be like when they're keeping score."

The NCAA moved the men's three-point line back one foot from the top of the key for the 2008-09 season. The Badgers claim it won't be a big difference for them this year – and backed that up by shooting 12-of-31 (39 percent) overall.

Eight different players had at least one triple on the evening. Six players – three from each squad – were in double figures.

Sophomore center J.P. Gavinski was particularly active underneath the baskets, swatting two blocks and getting two steals.

"He did some good things," Ryan said. "He's got to finish a little bit better, but I think that happens a lot when you're getting bumped, you just have to be strong with the ball."

Ryan seemed pleased with his young team's progress Wednesday night. The team plays its first official exhibition game this Saturday against Augustana (S.D.) College at the Kohl Center.

"What we take (from this scrimmage) is when we sit down with them and go over it, and what they digest of it," Ryan said. "You go to the next practice and pick it up from there."

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