Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Men’s basketball: First half sets the tone for Wisconsin win over Spartans

Jason Chan

In the first half of the Wisconsin men’s basketball team’s 68-61 victory over Michigan State Sunday, the Spartans tallied just six points in the paint.

It took the Badgers just more than four minutes to exceed that mark.

And by establishing a strong inside presence early, it allowed Wisconsin to open up the rest of its offense.


From the very start, Wisconsin was attacking Michigan State down low, scoring its first 10 points and 12 of its first 13 in the paint.

The dominance down low began with the work of sophomore forward Nigel Hayes, who scored six of Wisconsin’s first eight points on three quick post moves.

“This game, I was just making sure I went out and was aggressive,” Hayes said. “A lot of times I like to stand there, throw the ball to [senior forward Frank Kaminsky] and watch. I just wanted to try and go out and be aggressive and play off of [Kaminsky].”

Hayes finished the game with 14 points and four rebounds and was not alone in his aggressive play inside.

Hayes, along with national Player of the Year candidate Kaminsky, who together scored the first 19 points of the game for the Badgers, came into the game knowing that they had to establish a strong presence in the paint from the start.

“We knew they were a physical team so we had to get something going inside,” Kaminsky said.

In their last game against Maryland, Tuesday, the Badgers settled for outside shots and went just 1-for-11 (nine percent) from behind the arc in the first half, while scoring just 14 points in the paint, which led to an 11-point deficit after the first 20 minutes.

In Sunday’s game, Wisconsin scored its 14th point in the paint with 6:30 remaining in the first half, and instead of going into the locker room down 11 as they did against Maryland, the Badgers found themselves up 11.

“In the second half of the Maryland game we pounded the ball inside and some good things happened for us, so we wanted to get that going from the start of the game,” Kaminsky said. “That helped us push a lead out and never look back.”

There was no looking back as the Badgers’ 11-point lead grew to 22 at one point in the first half, with their first-half dominance in the paint opening up their offense to the point where there was nothing Michigan State could do to stop Wisconsin on offense both inside and out.

UW finished the first half with 24 of their 36 points in the paint, with the Badgers’ starting frontcourt of Hayes, Kaminsky and junior forward Sam Dekker accounting for 30 points, further establishing the fact that it was Wisconsin’s strength inside that set the tone for the rest of the game.

“I thought we did a real good job of misdirecting ball fakes, getting the ball into the post and putting guys in a position to score,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said.

But it was not only offensively that Wisconsin was able to be a force inside, as their interior defense helped set the tone as well, holding the Spartans to just six points in the paint in the first half.

On top of that, UW allowed Michigan State to have just two offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes and doubled the Spartans’ rebounding total 18-9.

“I don’t want to take any credit away from [Wisconsin], but our leading rebounder didn’t get a defensive board,” Michigan head coach Tom Izzo said. “You have to give them credit, but also had to give us some blame.”

Overall, Wisconsin out-rebounded Michigan 35-24, with Hayes, Kaminsky and Dekker accumulating 21 rebounds as a frontcourt.

Throughout Sunday’s matchup, Wisconsin was as efficient as it has been all season, and it all started with the early aggressive play inside from Hayes and Kaminsky.

The two finished the game with a combined 45 points, including a season-high 31 points from Kaminsky, on 17-26 (65 percent) shooting and 12 rebounds. They set the tone early for the Badgers and the team never waivered from there.

“Individually, the players still had to make the moves,” Ryan said. “Hayes had some great counters; Kaminsky obviously had some great counters. The two of them in the first half, that was quite a show they put on with their post moves.”

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