MADISON — The Badgers had a grind-it-out win over Michigan on Tuesday night. After an ugly game, there are a few major takeaways from the game that should be considered.
Bronson Koenig plays hero
In not so breaking news, Bronson Koenig happens to be absolutely terrifyingly cold-blooded.
“I’ve taken over games before,” Koenig said of his performance. “I knew I was capable of it, I just needed to stay confident and stay on the attack.”
Although Koenig took the game over, for most of the game, he was non-existent.
“I was frustrated the whole game,” Koenig said. “I wasn’t getting many looks.”
With the Badgers down by four points with just under six minutes left everything seemed to be collapsing. At this point, Koenig had just four points as the Badgers offense struggled mightily in the second half.
That’s when Bronson ripped off a 10 point run by himself to put the Badgers on top by six, 55-49. He did it in a variety of ways, with two backbreaking threes and even a beautiful reverse layup on the left side of the hoop.
Koenig has had many memorable heat checks so far in his Badger career, but Tuesday night’s outburst is one that will be played on his highlight reel well after he’s done playing.
“The ball has gotta go in,” Greg Gard said. “It’s a lot prettier when it goes in. Bronson put it in.”
On the defensive end, Koenig was also involved in a few loose balls that helped the Badgers get enough stops and get the ball back.
Koenig finished with 16 points on 3/5 shooting from the three-point line. He is averaging just a shade under 14 points during the Big Ten conference season.
Trice’s timely shooting continues
D’Mitrik Trice has hit so many big shots already early in his career – not your typical game-winning big shot, but timely big shots. In other words, when the Badgers badly need a bucket to stop a drought or the opposing team’s run, it always seems to be Trice that gets the Badgers out of a slump.
Tuesday night, Michigan started out the second half on fire. The Wolverines were down 26-21 at halftime and turned that into a 38-30 lead with 12:40 left in the game. In other words, the Wolverines started out the second half on a 17-4 run.
The Badgers needed something to go their way badly. That’s when D’Mitrik Trice delivered as he’s done many times already.
Trice first got to the free throw line thanks to the Badgers being in bonus early. He sunk his first one and missed the second attempt, but the Badgers retained the offensive board. Trice ran to the corner, caught the pass, went up with the shot…and of course, it went in.
Trice’s personal four-point possession got Badger fans on their feet and the loudest they’ve been all season. The timely outburst also got the Badgers back within four, 38-34, in a matter of seconds.
His three was just the second bucket of the half for the Badgers. Vitto Brown converted a lay-in with 19:08 left in the second half, meaning there were seven minutes and nine seconds in between converted field goals for the Badgers.
Depth and free throws continue to haunt the Badgers
Free throw shooting used to be something Bo Ryan’s squads hung their hats on. Watching the games, you would always hear announcers say things like the Badgers shoot more free throws than the other team attempts.
While the Badgers did, in fact, do that, they also left a lot to be desired. The Badgers were just 14/24 from the free-throw line in a very close game. In all of the Badgers’ losses they were blown out so free throws didn’t really matter, but eventually, Wisconsin could get burned by not converting their free throws.
Nigel Hayes finished an ugly 4/10 from the charity stripe. Vitto Brown was the only player out of the six that went to the line to make 100% of his free throws.
The Badgers finished with just nine bench points as well. The first bench points were D’Mitrik Trice’s aforementioned free-throw and three with under 13 minutes left in the second half. Jordan Hill contributed four points on 3/4 shooting from the charity stripe.
Greg Gard said of Jordan Hill: “I think he gave us a big boost both offensively and defensively.”
The rest of the bench was not thrilling. Khalil Iverson played 11 minutes and had zero points, rebounds, assists, and fouls. He was able to notch one stat, however: One turnover. Alex Illikainen air-balled a three. Charles Thomas racked up a DNP.
In forty-seven minutes of bench play (Trice 14, Hill 13, Iverson 11, Illikainen 9), the Badgers bench only was able to muster up nine points, six rebounds, and zero assists.
The Badgers will travel to Minneapolis to play the Golden Gophers on Saturday.