The game sure lived up to its billing. Too bad it wasn’t the result we were looking for.
The 4th ranked Duke Blue Devils came into Madison and gave the 2nd ranked Badgers their first loss of the young season.
Even with the loss, the B1G still won the ACC/B1G Challenge 8-6. Let’s jump into the box score and see what we can learn.
- Duke shot 65% from the field including 58% from three-point land. At first glance, you’d assume that Wisconsin just didn’t have a great defensive night. While this isn’t completely false, the Blue Devils shot lights out most of the night, especially later in the second half when Wisconsin was trying to make a comeback. Also, the Duke guards were able to create their own shots as they won most of the one-on-one battles. It was a frustrating night for the defensive side, but other than a couple breakdowns, it was mostly due to solid Duke offense.
- Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes combined for nine points on ten shots. This is the stat that really killed the Badgers on offense last night. Nigel got in foul trouble early and finished with only 23 minutes. Dekker finished with 24, but mostly saw the bench due to uneven play. Part of me wonders if his ankle still isn’t 100 percent, but it may be stretching it as he has played full games already this season. Either way, these are two of your main guys that need to help take a game over, and both were not up to the challenge Wednesday night. It also didn’t help that Bronson Koenig had his coldest night of the year as well. He was 1-7 on the night and that included a couple three pointers that he usually hits. He saw 25 minutes so that’s nearly 75 total minutes without much production.
- Traevon Jackson kept the team in it. Yeah, he’s been the Badgers’ most polarizing player this year, but it was hard not to like his offense last night. He showed the confidence to both hit outside shots and take it to the hole when need be. Someone had to step up with two of the big three struggling and Jackson was the guy to do it. Honestly, if he didn’t have the game he did, this would have been a blowout. Jackson seems to have found his role this year as more of a passer most games, but he also understands when the team needs him to score. His struggles in the past have been from not being able to identify that from game to game. So far this year, I’ve been happy with his decision making, and he is still a go-to guy at the end of games.
It was definitely a tough loss, but it was also a good measuring stick. Another Final Four is still within reach, but we now see how the Badgers need to play to knock off the elite teams. Having more than one guy go cold is not the way to do it.
With that said, it’s time to get back on the horse as the Marquette game is this Saturday. Regardless of how Marquette has been playing, this is always a tough match-up. I have faith Bo will get the players in the right mindset and we will see a good effort on Saturday.