Finally the Badgers saw opponents not wearing red and white on Wednesday night and it was a truly enjoyable experience for Wisconsin as they took down Wisconsin-Oshkosh 96-44 at the Kohl Center. The Badgers had 5 players in double figures on the way to an easy victory over the overmatched division 3 Titans.
Wisconsin was led on the scoring front by senior forward Jared Berggren's game high 16 points. He was joined in double digits by the rest of the starters with Frank Kaminsky and Ben Brust scoring 12 points each and Ryan Evans and George Marshall adding 11 points each.
Evans had perhaps the most complete game of any Badger, earning a double double by grabbing 10 rebounds to go with his 11 point performance in the win.
UW-Oshkosh was led by Dylan Wurtz's 15 points in the losing effort and was joined by fellow guard Corey Nicol (11) as a double digit scorer for the Titans.
Things didn't get off to a spectacular start for the Badgers though as UWO got off to a 7-0 lead to start the game. However, that would be the end of things as Wisconsin began to wear down the smaller Titans and took their first lead, 14-12, with 14:46 left in the 1st half and it was all downhill from there. Wisconsin had a 13 point run going in the half to blow things wide open, leading 44-18 at the half.
Wisconsin kept the pressure on in the 2nd half as they forced 16 Titans turnovers for the game. It also helped that the Badgers used their height and some great guard play to get even better results in the 2nd half. They shot 64.5% from the field in that half and also shot 5-11 from deep to better their numbers from the 1st half.
Simply put, the Badgers used their height and weight advantage on the inside to their benefit, outscoring the Titans 38-10 in the paint on their way to victory. That advantage was highlighted on back-to-back alley oops from Traevon Jackson to Sam Dekker and then Jared Berggren.
That may be the biggest takeaway from this game for me, Wisconsin is playing with a very different emphasis and tempo than it did last season. UW took only 20 shots from 3 point range and took 43 shots from inside the arc last night. The biggest thing I noticed was a slight increase in the tempo this team is playing with and it has a lot to do with what I see as a vastly more athletic lineup no matter who is on the floor at any given time.
The stats bare this out as well. According to KenPom.com the Badgers Tempo last season was 58.5 (which ranked 345 of 345 teams) and last night the adjusted Tempo was 62.2. While that may not seem like a massive jump, it means a lot in terms of how many possessions the Badgers could get and thus a chance at being an even higher scoring offense.
I'm not saying were suddenly going to be running the court & jacking up ridiculous shots, but if we are getting an offensive efficiency even higher than the 114.0 (KenPom.com) we had last year, which we did last night at 154.3 this team could end up scoring in the area of 68-70 points per game. That's a 6 points per game increase over last season and while it may not seem like a lot it is when you consider how efficient the Badgers defense is as well.
(Look for an introduction to tempo-free stats in the coming days so this may make a bit more sense to those unaware of tempo-free stats)