They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. The Badgers hope that's the case tonight, as they fell to #14 Creighton (5-0) 84-74 in the semi-finals of the Las Vegas Invitational. It was a hard fought, grind it out type battle and in the end the Badgers ran out of gas.
The Badgers did a lot of good things in this game, including out rebounding Creighton for the majority of the game and winning the turnover battle. However Wisconsin's 29.6% shooting percentage from 3 point range was again killer. I know I sound like a broken record, but the Badgers are going to die by the three ball, especially against good teams. When it's not falling, they won't win, especially when Bo Ryan allows them to take 30 a game.
Creighton was propelled by All-American Doug McDermott, who dropped 30 points on the Badgers. McDermott shot 10-23 and also had 8 rebounds. Three point specialist Ethan Wragge also chipped in for the Jays, knocking down 4 threes in route to 17 points off the bench.
Creighton shot 46.6% on the night, something the Badgers certainly did not want. The Badgers were outscored 46-35 in the second half after holding a one point lead at halftime.
In the last 10 minutes of the game the Wisconsin offense went into it's oh-so-famous stalemate mode, and their defense crumbled. An 18-4 run by the Blue Jays late in the game sealed the deal for them and sent them to the championship game.
Ben Brust: (D+) - Brust had his usual rebounding (7 boards) and hustle plays, but failed to take a big step towards helping the Badgers win. In times where the Badgers desperately needed a shot, Brust failed to give them anything. He shot just 2-12 on the day with 4 points.
Jared Berggren: (A) - It was a career night for the Ice Berg, who had 27 points and 7 rebounds. Berggren identified a weakness in the Creighton interior defense in the second half, and he took it right at the Blue Jay big men. He put the team on his back and willed them to a lead mid 2nd half. Unfortunately, the Badgers settled for Ryan Evan fade away jump shots in closing minutes rather then Berggren's scoring, and that ultimately cost the Badgers.
Ryan Evans: (C) - Evans had some positives offensively, including a few nice post move shots, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. He also had quite a few bonehead plays, including shooting two terrible threes, airballing a late game free throw, and chucking up some horrible fade away shots. Evans is a veteran, but he certainly isn't playing like one right now. He needs to take better shots and be more efficient offensively.
Mike Bruesewitz: (Incomplete) – Mike got in to foul trouble VERY early and sat most of the 1st half. It was the same case in the 2nd, where he again picked up 2 more quick fouls. In the 9 minutes he played, he had 2 points and 3 rebounds, but the Badgers definitely missed his defense while he was on the bench. His foul trouble was a big factor in the Badgers' loss.
George Marshall: (B+) - Marshall had a good game, going 5-10 from the field in route to 13 points. He had two sweet drives to the hoop off pick and rolls, something we hadn't seen from him before. Marshall also had 3 three pointers. He continues to improve and look better every game.
Wisconsin Bench: (C-) - The Badger bench of Traevon Jackson, Sam Dekker, Zak Showalter and Frank Kaminsky scored just 13 points in the game. Considering Bruesewitz was out most of the game, that number should be higher. We did see some nice things from Dekker and Jackson who had a couple nice shots, but overall the play off the bench needs to be better for the Badgers to win.
Overall, the intensity and competitiveness of this game was a great learning experience for the young guns of the Badgers. This should be a very valuable game as the Badgers enter the Big Ten schedule and beyond. Wisconsin takes on Arkansas at 7PM CT tomorrow in the 3rd place game of the Las Vegas Invitational.