Badgers put it all together, crush Illinois 74-51

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Wisconsin is used to having to fight from behind early on in games this season, however on Saturday at the Kohl Center it was the Badgers putting their opponent in a deep hole and never looking back in a 74-51 victory. The Badgers can thank a pair of big runs for giving them the lead that they wouldn't relinquish. First it was a 14-0 run to open up the game and that was shortly followed by an 11-0 run as the Badgers went up 39-19 at the half. 

With the win the Badgers improve to 12-4 and more importantly 3-0 in Big Ten play. Illinois drops to 14-4 and 1-3 in Big Ten play.

Jared Berggren led the Badgers with his 1st ever double double, going for 15 points and 12 rebounds to ignite the Badgers offense.

This could well be the most complete basketball game I've seen Wisconsin play in quite some time. The halftime numbers were completely ridiculous and should be noted, so let's run some of them down shall we?

FG %: UW – 16-30 (53.3%), Illinois – 6-23 (26.1%)
Rebounds: Illinois 11 total, UW 11 offensive rebounds (24 total)
Turnovers: UW – 7, Illinois 7 
Points off Turnovers: UW – 17, Illinois – 8

O.k., I think you get the picture, just about everything the Badgers wanted to do they did in this one and it continued in the 2nd half as well, at least on the offensive end. Illinois found their offense a bit more in the 2nd half, but by that point it was  already to little, to late.

Enough of that though, let's dive into the player grades and takeaways from Saturday's game.

Player Grades

Player Stats/Thoughts Grade
Ben Brust, G
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8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 37 minutes

Brust played well on the defensive end and helped out when needed offensively. It wasn't his best of games, but it also wasn't his worst of games either. An overall solid game for Brust

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Ryan Evans, F
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10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 4-5 FG's, 2-2 FT's, 19 minutes

Yes, it's true that Evans has had better point totals in his career, but for a guy that's been sucking it up shooting wise this was about as good as you could get and he represented just how much everything was going right for the Badgers with a free throw that somehow clanked off the base of the inside of the rim and stayed in.

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Traevon Jackson, G
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14 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 5-8 FG's, 2-2 3pt FG's, 4 TO's, 26 minutes

This was Jackson's coming out party of sorts. We've all been waiting for something offensively from one of the point guards and somehow it was Jackson getting off today. As great as that was to see, 4 turnovers could've really hurt this team had the Illini been able to do anything offensively. 

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Mike Bruesewitz, F
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7 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 34 minutes

Bruesewitz had a typical Mike Bruesewitz game – doing the dirty work on the defensive end and helping make the offense flow. He even added a trey to his game today. Not much more you could ask from the Bruiser if you ask me.

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Jared Berggren, F
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15 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, 6-13 FG's, 30 minutes

Berggren was the focal point of the Badgers offense early, often and successfully as UW opened up a huge lead early on. This may have been one of the best games he has played all around in his career and it was definitely needed for a struggling Badgers team on the offensive end of the court.

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Sam Dekker, F
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13 points, 4 rebounds, 5-9 FG's, 3-7 3pt FG's, 3 assists, 24 minutes

Dekker nearly outdid Berggren and if you are comparing dunks Dekker's was the better of the day. His play against a ranked opponent at home shows just how good this kid is going to be & hopefully we see more and more of it as the season progresses. He became a catalyst for the Badgers offense & played well on the defensive end as well. Maybe his most complete game of the year to date?

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George Marshall, G
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5 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 3 fouls, 14 minutes

Marshall has a great stroke from deep and he's becoming a lot more comfortable on the offensive end of the court, but his defense was just alright and the 3 fouls hurt his ability to do more offensively as well. Jackson had the advantage in all areas and it could be less & less minutes if Marshall can't respond with a solid game of his own.

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Frank Kaminsky, F
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0 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 9 minutes

Kaminsky didn't play a ton of minutes, but the ones he did were noticeable. He had 2 offensive rebounds and kept the ball in the offensive end on two big possessions. His minutes were productive and that's all you really can ask for from the reserve forward if you ask me.

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3 Takeaways

- It's amazing what happens when the Badgers run the offense through their best and most efficient player – Jared Berggren. Berggren nearly had a double double in the 1st half alone. He ended the game with 15 points and 12 boards in 30 minutes of action. Shooting, both good and bad, is contagious and perhaps getting some confidence from the one guy that's been consistently good at shooting the ball really paid off for the Badgers today?

- Wisconsin ended up with 18 offensive rebounds for the game, tying the amount of offensive FIELD GOALS that the Illini made for the game. I'm not sure the last time I saw that, but I'm guessing it was sometime around…. NEVER. 

- The Badgers backcourt deserves a huge gold star for this game. Why? They held star guard Brandon Paul completely in check and forced him to become frustrated from early on. Just how bad? Paul was just 1-11 from the field and scored over half of his 8 points from the free throw line. Wisconsin will need to keep that up coming up as they face some of the best guards in the conference over the next 10 games. 

Wisconsin began it's crazy stretch of 11 games against conference contenders with a win and will travel to 5th ranked Indiana for a MASSIVE test at Assembly Hall on Tuesday.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy has been covering college football for nearly half a decade and is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadgers.com. He's also a featured columnist covering college football for Bleacher Report.

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