Defense Overcomes Sloppy Second

Led by a team-high 15 points by senior Trevon Hughes and 11 second-half points by junior Keaton Nankivil, the Badgers use solid interior defense to overcome a sluggish shooting night to upend upset-minded Oakland, 58-42, Wednesday.

MADISON – With a quiet media room surrounding him, Oakland head coach Greg Kampe, who was sitting silently at the microphone waiting to field a question, had a similar reaction that the 17,230 announced attendance had Wednesday night.

"So you guys thought the same thing about this game that I did," Kampe joked.

If that thought was sloppy, disjointed and without much rhythm, sign us up. Wisconsin's second game of the non-conference won't win any style points, but the Badgers did just enough to board a jet plane to the Maui Invitational with an unblemished record, dispatching a cold-shooting Oakland squad, 58-42.

Wisconsin (2-0) struggled from the floor, shooting only 41.5 percent for the game, and committed seven turnovers in the final six minutes and 15 for the game, but got plenty of second-half post production from junior Keaton Nankivil.

After being limited to only two points and four rebounds in the first half, Nankivil finished with 13 points, shooting 5-of-8 from the floor, with nine rebounds, four blocks, including back-to-back blocks on shots in the paint by Derick Nelson, and two steals, most of which coming after halftime.

"He got on the glass and he's trying to find his niche," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "He's obviously better this year than last year and he's more active … I think Keaton has a lot of areas he still needs to work on, but whatever he gives us we'll take."

Nankivil was key in helping UW's interior defense shut down all-league preseason selections Derick Nelson and Keith Benson, who shot a combined 8-of-23 shooting and 18 points. The UW guards also flustered the Golden Grizzlies perimeter game, as Oakland shot 3-of-19 from 3-point range.

"We're a team that has a history of having really good three-point shooting teams," said Kampe, as Oakland (0-2) shot a combined 7-for-41 from three-point range in its first two games. "I don't think Wisconsin is an in-your-face pressure defense … so one would say maybe we had more to with it than them. Our shooting by the basket, that was them."

Senior Trevon Hughes was the shining star of the first half, scoring 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and a block to help the Badgers take a 34-23 lead into halftime, a lead that helped by Hughes drawing a third foul on 6-11 junior Keith Benson.

"I thought Trevon Hughes, late in the first half, really dictated the game," said Kampe. "He had some great plays and was able to open the score so we really didn't have a chance."

Although he finished with a team-high 15 points and added a career-high seven rebounds, Hughes' four turnovers tied a game high and didn't set well with his coach.

"(He gave me) a headache," Ryan admitted. "On some of those passes, there was no way in the world. It would be like taking a needle and taking a thread and throwing it through the eye of the needle. He's better with the ball than that."

Senior guard Johnathon Jones led Oakland with 15 points, five assists and five steals, but he was a non-factor in UW's first-half run that gained the needed separation. Starting with Jordan Taylor's three-point play, six Badgers contributed to a 19-4 UW run, turning a close-knit 11-10 game into a comfortable 30-14 advantage.

Less than 72 hours after holding IPFW to 46 points, Oakland's 42 points were the fewest by a UW opponent since the Badgers held Michigan to 34 in the 2008 Big Ten Tournament, a sign that while UW is still searching for a rhythm, the defense is making solid progress.

‘We have some young, inexperienced guys that games like this are great for them," said junior Jon Leuer, who chipped in with 12 points. "The first few exhibition games, they get their feet wet. It's just a learning process right now. We still have a lot of things to figure out. We're still learning how to play off each other. So far, I am like what I am seeing off the progress we've made."

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