Badgers learned lesson, beat Gophers 78-70

A shooter never loses confidence, and after a poor day on Sunday Wisconsin's Ben Brust put it all together in leading No. 21 Wisconsin (20-5, 7-5 B1G) to a 78-70 win over visiting Minnesota.

Brust poured in 20 points on a perfect 4-of-4 night from three-point range. He added 5 rebounds and went 5-of-7 from the field, along with 6-of-8 from the free throw line in the win. 

With the win, the Badgers have now earned 20 victories for the 11th time in Bo Ryan’s 13 seasons. UW has won 16 of the last 17 home contests against Minnesota as well. 

The Badgers were determined to learn the lessons of their loss to Minnesota earlier in the year, and it became apparent early on that UW wasn't going to let the Gophers go to work inside again. 

It was the exact opposite of that, as Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes were the ones doing the punishing inside. Both Nigel Hayes and Frank Kaminsky were able to be forces on both ends of the court. The duo combined for 13 points and 6 rebounds in the first half alone, and finished the game with 17 points (Kaminsky) and 15 points (Hayes) a piece. 

All you need to know about how good Kaminsky's night was can be explained in this one play: 

Wisconsin started off slow, hitting just 3-of-11 in the first 11:34 of the game, however that was the low point, as UW would go 7-of-10 the rest of the half. That run, along with going 10-of-12 from the free-throw line allowed the Badgers to take a 35-28 lead at the half. 

Minnesota had issues with turnovers all night long, but their 8 first half turnovers were more than they had in the entire contest in Minneapolis. The Gophers finished the night with 13 turnovers to just 11 assists. 

Coming out of the half, the Badgers were up 35-28 and they didn't let things slip away despite Dre Hollins' best efforts. Hollins finished with a game-high 22 points, 16 of which came in the 2nd half. 

Eventually it was the Badgers ability to hit from the free throw line that would matter most, as they made fewer three-pointers (6 to 9) and field goals (21 to 23) than the Gophers on the night. UW hit on 30-of-36 free throws, holding a 15 point advantage from the line. 

That's how you get to 78-70 Wisconsin wins…Let us get to the grades: 

Player Stats/Thoughts Grade

Ben Brust, G

20pts, 6 rebounds, 5-7 FGs, 4-4 3pt FGs

What didn't Brust do well? OK, sure he missed the front end of 2 FT sequences near the end of the game, but that's nitpicking if we've ever seen it. Burst bounced back in a big way on Thursday and UW needed every bit of it. He balanced out what Hayes and Kaminsky were doing inside very well. 

Nigel Hayes, F

15pts, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 5-7 FGs

It just feels like we are seeing Hayes putting his game together right before our eyes, and this may have been the best one yet. Hayes hit just about everything in sight and he did it from the FT line as well (5-6). If he's still learning, that's a scary thing for the rest of the Big Ten. 

Traevon Jackson, G

9pts, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 3-4 FGs

Jackson was good when needed, but he was better seen than heard on the court on Thursday. He did a good job deferring to the hot-hands and came up big when he needed to. His defense was alright and thankfully he wasn't a turnover machine in this one. 

Sam Dekker, F

10pts, 7 rebounds, 3-8FGs, 1-4 3pt FGs

It wasn't a great effort offensively for Dekker at some times, however he did a lot of damage by driving to the hoop and by playing some very stout defense. Those 7 rebounds stand out to me, as does the crazy block he had in the 2nd half. 

Josh Gasser, G

7pts, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1-5 FGs

OK, so Gasser couldn't hit the broad side of the barn, but his one made shot was an important one. He just wasn't a big enough factor for most of the night, and he could've easily been the fifth double digit scorer had he been more on from the field. 

Bronson Koenig, G

0pts, 2 steals, 0-3 FGs

Koenig played 12 minutes and did some good things on defense, but he couldn't get his shot going on the offensive side of things. It wasn't a great overall effort by the freshman guard. 

Frank Kaminsky, F

17pts, 6 rebounds, 4-9 FGs, 9-9 FTs

After watching Nigel Hayes do work over the last week or so, Kaminsky appeared to have gotten the swift kick in the backside he needed. He was great around the rim on both ends of the floor, and was more physical than we've seen him in over a month. Welcome back the real Frank Kaminsky. 



Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site