Kaminsky’s return sparks Badgers to season sweep of Illinois

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All offseason Wisconsin fans were hearing that Frank Kaminsky was a changed young man – both in his body and his mindset – yet, when the season started we didn't see much of that. We began to see it against Indiana, but a freak eye injury took him out of action early and made him sit nearly two weeks. On Sunday, he picked right up where he left off, scoring a career high 19 points and helping the Badgers complete a season sweep of Illinois, 74-68. 

Kaminsky wasn't even the leading scorer in the game though as teammate Ben Brust poured in 20 points and senior Ryan Evans got back on the upswing with 15 points to lead UW. 

Don't let the final score fool you though, it took a furious comeback from Illinois to even get back in the game. They went on a 19-11 run to end the game and make it look far closer than it actually was. 

Illinois struggled to hit from deep and it cost them in the game, shooting just 15.4% (2-13) from 3 point land. It's what helped them dig a hole they couldn't quite come back from.

So, how did UW's players fare in this one? Let's get to grades -

Player Grades:

Player Stats/Thoughts Grade
Ben Brust, G
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20pts, 5 rebounds, 7-11FG's, 4-6FT's, 2-5 3pt FG's, 38 min.

Brust got open, played pretty smart and finally started to hit his open shots. He also showed up on the defensive end as well for the Badgers, which is perhaps a catalyst for his offensive output as well. It also helped that the Illini refused to not switch on ball screens and leave him open from deep often.

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Mike Bruesewitz, F
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9pts, 6 rebounds, 2-3FG's, 4-6FT's, 2 assists, 2 steals, 33 min.

This was your typical all-around effort from Bruesewitz, only he actually made the most of his free throw attempts for a change as well. Nothing super spectacular from him, but this was what you need from him if you are UW going forward.

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Ryan Evans, F
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15pts, 9 rebounds, 5-11FG's, 5-11FT's, 2 assists, 1 block, 31 min.

I'd love to get off the downside of the Ryan Evans roller coaster ride, but the upside is so much fun.. Especially when he's shooting like he did today – mainly a lot less dribbling and a lot more set shooting. Hard to argue with a near double-double, right?

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Traevon Jackson, G
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1pt, 0-4FG's, 1-2FT's, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 28 min.

The numbers for Jackson are a bit misleading to say the least. He played one of his best defensive games so far in his career, once again stifling Brandon Paul (just 3-13 from the field) and he was very good with the ball handling for a change.

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Jared Berggren, F
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6pts, 5 rebounds, 2-6FG's, 2-3FT's, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 17 min.

Berggren got in early foul trouble and Frank Kaminsky got hot. Overall this wasn't one of Bergs' best games of the season by far. He had trouble holding on to the ball when he did get fed in the post & didn't have that great of a defensive game either.

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George Marshall, G
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0pts, 0 rebounds, 0-2FG's, 3 fouls, 9 min.

To say this wasn't a good game for Marshall would be an understatement. It was downright ugly and you'll have that from a Freshman from time to time, thankfully he didn't need to be counted on.

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Sam Dekker, F
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4pts, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2-5FG's, 18 min.

Dekker had an amazing 1st half. In fact you're looking at his stats from the 1st half above. Too bad we grade on a full game scale, huh? Overall it was a solid, but not spectacular effort for the freshman

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Frank Kaminsky, F
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19pts, 5 rebounds, 3-7FG's, 12-14FT's, 23 min.

If you saw this game coming from Kaminsky you better be in Vegas betting all the prop bets on the Super Bowl. Seriously, this was a glimpse of the future (career high in points by a wide margin), but it also was against a team that has zero inside presence as well. At least he proved he can hit free throws, right?

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3 Takeaways:

- Holy made free throws Batman!! Seriously, I feel like we've all almost forgotten what it looks like to see a Badgers team make 70% of it's attempts from the charity stripe. Too bad some horrendous free throw shooting down the stretch cost UW that chance, but with how they've been shooting I'll take 66.7% over 30 or 40% any day of the week.

- In not so shocking fashion Wisconsin won and Ryan Evans scored in double figures. That's  13-1 for the Badgers when Evans goes into double digits on the scoreboard. 

- If we can see more of this version of Frank Kaminsky going forward this Badgers team is going to be vastly different and a hell of a lot more difficult to stop. For my money he's a better pure post player than Berggren is, but he needs to prove it to us all a few more times against better competition than what was inside for Illinois on the defensive end.

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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