MADISON — The Badgers defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 90-70 on Saturday afternoon, getting some revenge from last year’s 65-48 loss in Norman. Here are some takeways from Saturday’s game.
Nigel Hayes finds his jump shot
Hayes came into the game with the two most recent games being his best of the season. He would keep that momentum rolling into the win over Oklahoma.
His jump shot has been off most of the season, coming into the game shooting under 30% from the three-point line. In the last two games, he didn’t even attempt a single three combined.
On Saturday, he continued his stellar play, but did it from the perimeter and with his jump shot. Hayes scored a season-high 28 points on 8/13 shooting from the field, including 2/2 shooting from the three-point line. Hayes also went 10/13 from the free throw line.
Overall, he hit seven jump shots which is his season-high. His seventh jump shot was a deep three at the end of the shot clock that was essentially the nail in the coffin for Oklahoma.
Hayes will always be more of a threat from the paint than the perimeter, however, Saturday was a display of Hayes at his best. When he can hit from the outside, he is simply unguardable.
“When he’s knocking down the jumper like that,” Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger said of Hayes, “he’s even more difficult to stop…He’s a really tough matchup.”
Head coach Greg Gard also echoed Kruger’s statement of Hayes: “It’s him understanding and the team understanding what makes us our best. Ironically, it’s the same… His size his quickness, his strength, he’s a tough matchup.”
Nigel also added six assists with zero turnovers.
“In the most humble sense, I don’t feel I can be guarded,” Hayes said after the game.
Trice continues steady play
D’Mitrik Trice has received a lot of attention so far during the young season, but that’s simply because he keeps making plays every game. Saturday against Oklahoma was no different.
Trice has hit a few clutch first half shots getting the Badgers out of early slumps. Trice hit his first three to tie the game up at 12 a piece after the Badgers had a very slow start out of the gate.
Five minutes later, Trice would sink his second three to bring the Badgers back within one. He would score one more time in the first half, hitting mid range jumper to again bring the Badgers within one of the Sooners.
It wasn’t just on the offensive end that Trice contributed, either. Late in the first half Trice had terrific position as a guard penetrated against him and drew a big charge. On the next possession he would play terrific on ball defense against another penetrator causing a miss.
In the second half, Trice hit two more threes adding onto the Badgers’s second half run.
Trice finished with 16 points on 4/4 shooting from the three-point line. Trice played a team high of minutes off the bench with 19.
“He’s really from day one has come in and done a terrific job of fitting in and doing his job,” Gard said of Trice’s play.
“He’s very level headed. I go back to him being a high school quarterback. He led a huddle with 10 other guys.”
Trice has been a surprise, a very pleasant surprise, for a three star recruit who doesn’t have tremendous size or athleticism. His contributions have been crucial for the Badgers bench unit.
“There’s just a trust factor you have with him,” Bronson Koenig said of Trice.
Badgers play best half of the year in the second half
Oklahoma led at the break 40-37 . The Badgers outscored the Sooners 53-30 in the second half, featuring a 20-2 run in the Badgers favor.
“Shot selection got better in the second half,” Gard said of the improvement after halftime. “Our offense helped our defense. We were more conscious in the second half of playing inside out.”
There were many factors that led to this, but it can be simplified down to the fact that the Badgers just finally made shots and put the clamps on the defensive end.
The Badgers only turned the ball over one time in the second half (and only five times the entire game) to the Sooners eight. The Badgers outscored the Sooners 24-4 on points off of turnovers.
Wisconsin shot 19/30 in the second half, largely behind the contributions from Hayes, Happ, Koenig, and Trice.
It was also an impressive display from the three-point line from Greg Gard’s squad, shooting 8/14 from beyond the arc in the second half. With the Badgers defense stepping up the intensity, Oklahoma was only able to shoot 1/5 from the three-point line. Jordan Woodard, Oklahoma’s leading scorer, had nine points before halftime. He would end the game with 9 points.
The expectations were high for the Badgers coming into the season with a top-10 ranking in the preseason polls. After a rocky start, the Badgers are continuing to get better. Saturday afternoon was a look at what this team can be at their peak, and you have to like the results.