Grades: Nothing spectacular, but UW finds ways to win

first_imgSenior forward Jon Leuer slashed the Wilcats for 26 points on Sunday. The performance was a welcomed sight after he struggled to score in the second half against Michigan last Wednesday.[/media-credit]Every week, Herald Sports will look back on the last two games of the 10th-ranked Wisconsin men’s basketball team and offer a report card.On the road against Michigan last Wednesday, freshman guard Josh Gasser banked in a three-point buzzer beater to hand the stunned Wolverines a 53-52 loss.Wisconsin (22-6, 12-4) followed that up by winning its final game of the season at the Kohl Center against Northwestern, 78-63. Finishing 16-0 at home, the Badgers completed their third undefeated season at home since the 1929-30 season. All three have come under head coach Bo Ryan’s 10-year stay at UW.The Badgers wrap up the regular season with road games at Indiana on Thursday and No. 1 Ohio State on Sunday.Offense – 3.5 out of 5An ugly showing in Michigan hasn’t quieted concerns of the Badgers’ performance away from the comforts of home. Wisconsin hit just .362 percent of their shots from the field at the Crisler Arena.For much of the game, UW struggled to work the ball inside. Half of the Wisconsin’s shots (29) came from the arc, and the Badgers managed to hit just eight. Even senior Jon Leuer struggled, scoring just two of his 12 points in the second half and going 0-6 from the arc.Nevertheless, Gasser hit the basket that counts, and Wisconsin rebounded with a nice shooting performance against Northwestern, converting on a .574 pace. The Badgers found a way to score from anywhere on the court, but a near 10-minute hiccup allowed the Wildcats to narrow a 16-point deficit to three in the second half.But great post play by Leuer and senior Keaton Nankivil never fazed Wisconsin’s offense and clutch three-pointers by Nankivil and junior Jordan Taylor in the game’s final three minutes helped seal the game for Wisconsin.Defense – 3.5 out of 5The Badger defense didn’t necessarily play poorly at all over its last two games. Rather, its opponents were just uncompromising. Wisconsin didn’t allow many open shots, but Michigan still found a way to shoot .488 from the field while Northwestern hit .468.The Wolverine offense, however, did control the paint in the first half against Wisconsin, scoring 16 of 31 points from that area alone. Michigan was equally tough to defend from the arc, as it converted on .538 percent of its shots.Northwestern’s three-point shooting clip of .542 kept them within striking distance during the entire game, but Wisconsin didn’t allow them to score efficiently from the perimeter in the second half, allowing four buckets on 12 attempts.Holding the Wildcats scoreless in the game’s final two and a half minutes earns the defense extra points, but the Badgers, who are themselves a team that is reliant on the three, must find a way to bottle up opponents on the perimeter.Bench – 2 out of 5Wisconsin’s reserves hardly made themselves known against Michigan. In 30 minutes of playing time between five players, none of them contributed points in a game where the starting lineup had enough issues scoring.The only stats to speak of from the bench at Ann Arbor: sophomore Mike Bruesewitz grabbed two rebounds and dished out an assist, while junior Ryan Evans recorded two more boards and a steal. The reserves collectively shot 0-6 on the night, starving the Badgers of new energy.Against Northwestern, Bruesewitz by far played the most (19 minutes) and shot 1-3, gathered three rebounds but made great passes, recording two assists. Evans was the only other play to record at least five minutes on the floor, producing one steal and one turnover.Senior Wquinton Smith, playing only three minutes, took full advantage of a wide-open three-pointer in the first half.Player of the Week – Jordan TaylorThere was no standout performance against Michigan and Leuer was terrific against Northwestern, but once again Wisconsin could not have done it without Taylor, who scored 36 points and handed out 13 assists between the two games.Nankivil shot the steadiest of all players over the last two games, hitting 11 of 20 attempts from the field and five of 11 from the arc, but Taylor’s play down the stretch in both games was essential to victory.Although Gasser hit the game-winner against Michigan, credit Taylor for not giving up the ball and finding the open freshman on the perimeter while being aggressively double-teamed after receiving the inbounds pass.And in the last five and a half minutes versus Northwestern, Taylor had an assist and scored eight points – three of which came on a tough shot at the top of the key with a defender’s hand in his face that helped tuck the game away for good.last_img read more

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