Take away Jon Leuer's second half and the Badgers made eight field goals. Not eight in the second half, eight all game. For those of you keeping track, that puts Wisconsin at 20.5 percent shooting. The Badgers looked lost on most possessions, especially team play-maker Trevon Hughes. "Were we that bad, or were we playing that tough?" Good question Bo.
Give credit to Michigan State's defense, especially the guards, as their ball pressure had as much to do with Hughes's poor performance as anything. It's surprising that he managed to get off 13 shots. It's not surprising that he managed to only make three of them. The Badgers only had 10 turnovers, Leuer found his shot in the second half for 18 points, and Jordan Taylor looked legit running the point (much better than Hughes) to give the Badgers a little bit to be happy about on the offensive side.
Knowing that the Badgers shot as poorly as they did, would you have expected them to be in it until the last 30 seconds? I wouldn't have. Credit the defense on that one, as a team that was averaging 82 points per game coming in was held to only 54. The Badgers forced an experienced team into 14 turnovers, and held three major contributors (Korie Lucious, Durrell Summers, and Derrick Nix) scoreless and nearly held Kalin Lucas to his first single digit scoring performance in 26 games.
Credit Hughes and Taylor with frustrating Lucas early and often. The only thing that prevents the Badgers from getting an 'A' is forgetting the Windex. Wisconsin allowed Michigan State 11 offensive rebounds, leading to eight second chance points in a game decided by seven.
We all know Bo can coach, and since he can't help the shots fall from the bench this is more a knock on a few little things that I noticed. First off, the defensive game plan was great. Wisconsin obviously wanted to pressure Michigan State into bad shots and slow down their up-tempo offense. Mission Accomplished. The Badgers made the critical error, however, of once again getting a key player or two into early foul trouble. In today's case, it was Keaton Nankivil and Hughes. Many of the fouls came on a play where a guard would drive, draw help from someone covering a forward on the wing, and the big would come down in the paint for the pass. Bo didn't adjust, even though no one besides Chris Allen was hitting shots past 10 feet with regularity. The Badgers were out shot at the stripe 30-12.
Game MVP: Jon Leuer. Give credit to Leuer for overcoming a 1-of-7 first half and at least two air-balls to amass 21 points. He was the only glimmer of hope the Badgers had in the second half. For perspective, he made four times as many field goals as the rest of the team in the period. He needs to avoid rushing his shot when getting the deep shot off of a screen, but he is shaping up to be one of the Badger greats.