While Ryan Evans and Ben Brust recorded double-doubles against Cornell, another solid, efficient performance from a player on the team went largely under the radar for No. 22 Wisconsin in its 73-40 victory Sunday night at the Kohl Center.
Fifth-year senior forward/center Jared Berggren quietly propelled the Badgers (2-1) with 18 points in a steady array of shot selections, many high-efficiency looks inside the post as well as open looks from outside the three-point arc.
The reflection of the high percentage shot selection came in Berggren’s final stat line, as the senior went 7-for-14 from the field while also bringing down seven rebounds.
And while Berggren has yet to record a double-double in his career, he may have been held back from that opportunity because of limited minutes.
With the Badgers largely in cruise control from the get-go against the Big Red (1-3), Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan was able to be more liberal in his rotation, only giving the big man 22 minutes in the game, tied for the least of any starting player.
Berggren also showed his ability to stretch the floor, connecting on one of his three attempts from beyond the arc, something that Cornell head coach Bill Courtney noted makes the 6-foot-10 big man so difficult to guard.
“In the scouting report you know he’s a guy who can shoot the basketball,” Courtney said. “We closed him out with our hands low, it was like our guy didn’t expect him to shoot.”
“He’s a terrific basketball player, for his ability to do that as well as some of the things he does around the basket … I think he’s a terrific ball player.”
Cornell showed a knack in the game for getting past the initial tight man-to-man defense that Wisconsin brought, but Berggren was there to clean up any mistakes defenders made on slow reactions moving out to the perimeter. Reminiscent of his defensive prowess in 2012 — a season where he recorded the third-highest total in school history for blocks in a season with 60 — the Princeton, Minn., native recorded four blocks and his presence in the middle of the lane altered several other Cornell shot attempts in the paint.
The presence of the center alone was enough to make Cornell players think twice before taking the ball hard in the paint, as Berggren’s effort was one of many that contributed to Wisconsin registering nine blocks in the game, holding their opponent to just 26.2 percent shooting from the field.
“Cornell can break a lot of people down,” Ryan said. “They have some guys when you look on film who can penetrate. They have good counter-moves, I think Jared did a good job of not allowing too many.”
Turnover concerns override blowout
While the Badgers won by a comfortable 33-point margin in a blowout, the nonconference whooping was not without its miscues from Ryan’s squad.
Ryan’s teams are nationally-renowned for their prowess in ball toughness and refusing to turn over the ball, but Wisconsin committed 16 turnovers against Cornell Sunday night in an uncharacteristically sloppy performance.
“We were just making quick decisions and not using ball fakes,” Ryan said. “You don’t dribble exchange on double teams which we talked about in practice … it was just one of those things under the lights, we have some guys that don’t have a lot of experience.”
One particular instance that gave the Badgers trouble was the Big Red’s run-and-jump press.
Down 19 with over seven minutes remaining in just the first half, Courtney had his squad test the Badgers with traps in the half court and forced the Badgers into three-straight turnovers.
Wisconsin finally snapped its funk against the trap thanks to a three-pointer from freshman point guard George Marshall, as Ryan made the adjustments necessary to break the Cornell pressure.
Cornell took advantage when they could off any Wisconsin miscues, converting the 16 turnovers into 12 points.
“Looking at it, 16 turnovers is way too much, we don’t get that in two, three games at times,” junior guard Ben Brust said. “So we definitely have to clean it up. We can handle it. We practice it, it’s just a good thing that it happened early and we have time to clean it up against some longer, more athletic teams.”
“We’ll get better.”
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