The Badgers were able to use strong post play and excellent team defense to defeat the Panthers 68-58, although the results were always pretty.
The offense once again looked to establish Jon Leuer in the post from the start and tried to take advantage of his height and skill inside. Jon Leuer was able to out-maneuver the slower Panther big man for 16 first-half points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field. The Badgers took control of the game towards the end of the first half and relied heavily on feeding the post and working the shot clock.
Wisconsin appeared to emphasize running the swing and working the shot clock for the majority of its possessions and had far too many shots near the end of the shot clock. This was an issue that plagued the Badgers throughout last season but it appeared the Badgers had mostly corrected this problem during the first part of this year. However, the shots late in the shot clock led to the Badgers looking out of sync on offense and taking hurried shots that were not in rhythm.
Overall, the Badgers lacked any sense of flow or consistency on offense and fortunately were able to get strong and efficient games from both Keaton Nankivil (14 points on 4-6 shooting) and Jon Leuer (25 points on 11-14 shooting).
The Badgers played good defense throughout the game and were able to hold the Panthers to 58 points. Trevon Hughes did an excellent job containing the Panthers leading scorer and go-to-guy Ricky Franklin as Hughes held him to 13 points on (5-14) shooting. Additionally, the Badgers were able to keep the Panthers off the glass and only gave up three offensive rebounds. Overall, the Badgers played solid clean team defense and kept UWM off of the free throw line, as the Panthers went 6-of-12 from the charity stripe.
Not a lot to say in regards to strategy or tactics given how similar both teams play on offense and defense. The Badgers were able to grind out a win by playing classic Bo Ryan basketball, making more free throws than the Panthers attempted and keeping the Panthers off of the offensive glass. Offensively, the Badgers were not crisp and lacked a real sense of urgency. Fortunately, Wisconsin was able to get away with a lack of rhythm on offense by playing good defense and remembering to pound the ball inside. The one interesting trend was the small rotation Wisconsin used as only seven players played in the first half and only eight got in for the entire game. Freshman Mike Bruesewitz saw the court off the bench as well as typical reserves Jordan Taylor and Ryan Evans while Rob Wilson was noticeably absent from the court.
Game MVP: Jon Leuer, was simply unstoppable in the post.