The Badgers took care of business over Prairie View A&M in their most impressive offensive display of the season. Here are three takeaways from the game.
The Badgers have their most explosive offensive game of the year
The Badgers’ 48 second half points are the most points the Badgers have scored in a half this season. The 47 first half points are the second most. The 95 points the offense totaled for is the most since the opening game when Wisconsin scored 79 points in a win over Central Arkansas.
Dating back to last year, the Badgers never reached 95 points all season. The 2015-16 season high was 92 points in a win over Siena.
Impressively, the leading scorer in the explosive offensive performance was only 17 points from Nigel Hayes. Usually when a team scores that high of an amount of points, you see at least one player that had a dominant performance with a scoring output at least in the twenties. Hayes was dominant, but the overall balance of the team was astounding. Six players scored in double figures, with all of the starters reaching at least ten points with the exception of Vitto Brown. D’Mitrik Trice and Khalil Iverson both had ten points a piece off the bench.
Hayes, Iverson, Brevin Pritzl, and Charles Thomas all were perfect from the field, combining for 39 points on 12/12 shooting.
Thirteen different Badgers scored in the game.
Nigel Hayes breaks his slump
Mentioned above, Hayes led the team in scoring on a near perfect day for him, going 5/5 from the field and 7/8 from the free throw line.
Badger fans have been critical of Hayes’s performance so far this year, as he has had a rough start to the year. Hayes came into the game averaging 10.7 PPG, which was down five points from his 15.7 PPG he averaged last year.
Most of his problems can be traced back to the fact that he’s spent most of his time on the perimeter when he’s a below average three-point shooter, which has been frustrating to watch, because he’s effective in the paint. He is averaging more three-point attempts per game this year than any other year in his career, hoisting over five threes a game coming into the matchup against Prairie View A&M. Hayes isn’t even shooting 30% from beyond the arc this season. With all the time spent out on the perimeter, Hayes hasn’t attempted nearly enough free throws as he has in previous years. His 3.5 shots from the free throw line per game is the lowest mark in his career, and less than half as many as his 7.4 attempts from the line last year.
Hayes had his best performance of the season on Sunday against Prairie View in a game that he didn’t attempt a single three-point shot. He did it all from inside the arch and in the paint, not missing a shot. With the increased time spent in the paint, Hayes also attempted eight free throws, sinking seven of them.
His efficiency was remarkable and it shows how dominant he is when he gets the ball on the block. If the Badgers can center the offense around Hayes and Happ on the blocks, whether it be high low action or interchanging spots on the block, combined with Koenig, Showalter, and Brown on the outside, that will most likely be the best version of the 2016-17 Badgers there could be.
Hayes’s 17 points on Sunday tied for his season high, also scoring 17 against Tennessee in Maui. Greg Gard said of Hayes’s performance, “[I’m] very happy for Nigel to perform like that. That’s who he can be when he locks in to that type of mode.”
Charles Thomas sees an increased role
Charles Thomas was the first big man subbed in by Greg Gard on Sunday, a spot usually reserved for Alex Illikanen. Thomas played 15 minutes, tying his season high for minutes played in a game.
Thomas was 2/2 from the field and the free throw line, scoring six points. Thomas also added two rebounds and one assist.
Wisconsin takes on Syracuse at home on Tuesday. Tip off is at 6:30 pm CT, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.