For the first time this season, the Wisconsin Badgers did what they haven’t done since last season. They asserted their dominance over a solid Temple team. While they looked rough out of the gate in both halves, as the game progressed, the Badgers gained more and more confidence, cruising to a 76-60 win.

Nigel Hayes led the Badgers with 18 points and 12 rebounds, good for his third straight double-double, and did an excellent job of driving to the basket to get some quality inside opportunities. Bronson Koenig and Hayes stepped up today. They showed their leadership, and when Bronson is shooting 60% from deep and Nigel is scoring from the post, the Badgers are tough to beat. The biggest boost and step-up since last year, however, has to be Zak Showalter. He continued to provide a huge defensive jolt forcing numerous turnovers and a Josh Gasser like offensive and rebounding consistency that have been fundamental in the Badgers’ past two victories over Syracuse and Temple.

By far the biggest difference in this game was the Badgers ability to get to the free-throw line and convert on a few more open looks that they quite simply weren’t able to in prior games. They shot a better than average 46% from the floor and an astounding 55% from behind the arc. Of the chances they failed to convert, they made up for with their numerous second chance opportunities from offensive rebounds. The Badgers out-rebounded Temple 38-29, continuing their now 9-game streak of doing so. This new founded physicality is adding a new element to the team that can ultimately be the biggest difference in winning and losing games when Big Ten play comes around.

Other Notes

The Badgers had 16 points off of the bench today compared to only 1 point off the bench against Syracuse.  Charlie Thomas came off the bench for 9 points and his growing confidence is fundamental to the long-term success of the Badgers.

Khalil Iverson did not play in the second half. It appeared as if he was holding his knee, but no word on the extent of the injury if there was one at all. If the injury prohibits Iverson from playing in the next couple of games, the Badgers will need to look to Alex Illikainen and Charlie Thomas to step up their games even more.

This win marks Bo Ryan’s 746 NCAA win. He is now tied with Phog Allen for 26th in career victories.

Quote of the Day: Bo Ryan on the possible Khalil Iverson injury: “I always tell guys if they get hit somewhere, always grab something else…Keeps you guys guessing.”

Photo from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Department.