Keaton Nankivil gets an A+, but the rest of the Badgers get a generous C-. It seems like every time I write this column, it's the same story (OK, I'll admit that the only other time I wrote it was at Michigan State, but I‘m 2 for 2): One Badger shoots lights out, the rest shoot like someone turned the lights out. At Michigan State, it was Jon Leuer, today it was Nankivil. Keaton shot 9-14, including a school record tying seven 3-pointers. The rest of the team shot 11-36, otherwise known as 30.6 percent, otherwise known as bad.
On top of the poor field goal shooting, the only Badgers to get to the line were Trevon Hughes and Jordan Taylor. The two combined to make only 8 of 14. Hughes went 3 for 8 from the stripe, managed to miss all five 3-point shots he took, and missed on two forced go-ahead attempts at the end of the game. The two point guards showed flashes of good play, getting good penetration and drawing contact, but weren't able to finish with regularity. Jason Bohannon played (I think) but was a virtual non-factor. Extra credit was given for degree of difficulty (Purdue's tough defense and Mackey's history), keeping the turnovers in the single digits (nine), and Jered Berggeren's 3-ball that prompted the lady next to me to ask, "Who is that guy?"
Another common thread from the Michigan State game? The Badgers allowed the Boilermakers double digit offensive rebounds and a double digit rebounding margin. For a team with so many tough, hard-nosed players, the Badgers can be very inconsistent on the boards. In the win against Purdue at the Kohl Center, the Badgers let up only three offensive rebounds, but in the rematch in West Lafayette, Purdue managed 11. Wisconsin also did a poor job defending E'Twaun Moore, allowing him into the lane at will.
Credit the Badgers for putting up more shots than the Boilers and holding them to only five 3-point attempts (two made). The Badgers also get points for forcing Purdue into 13 turnovers, including a couple key steals late to keep them in the game.
The Badgers were ready for this game. Credit Bo Ryan for slowing the Badgers down and breaking them out of the habit of putting up bad shots early and hoisting way too many threes. Yes, I know Wisconsin still put up 23 shots from behind the arc, but more of them were good looks created by patience and Bo's swing offense. Wisconsin still has a habit of pulling it out to set up an isolation late in the shot clock too early, leading to a forced shot.
Game MVP: Keaton Nankivil. You know why. Career highs in field goal attempts, field goals made, 3-point attempts, 3-pointers made, and points. Add in three steals, six boards, a block, and an assist for good measure.