Game Day Grades: No.6 Baylor

Ben Brust (Siker/14)

Wisconsin's offense had no problem against the so-called vaunted zone of Baylor, as the Badgers picked apart the Bears' defense and shut down their offense in a 69-52 victory at the Honda Center Thursday night. BadgerNation hands out the grades.

Offense: A-

Wisconsin was not afraid of attacking Baylor's 1-3-1 zone by getting the ball into the paint, which opened up the entire offense and help lead to 26-for-50 (52 percent) shooting from the field.

Frank Kaminsky was the reason why Wisconsin had so much success on offense, netting a game high 19-points on 8-for-11 shooting. Ben Brust was second to Kaminsky with 14 points, and Nigel Hayes had 10 points off the bench.

Wisconsin did a great job of passing the basketball around looking for the open shot, which is evident by the Badgers' 18 assists. Even with as good as Kaminsky was in the paint, he wouldn't of had a chance if the Badgers weren't able to get him the ball. Traevon Jackson had a team high five assists to two turnovers. With Jackson taking care of the basketball and making smart passes, it forced the Bears to play a full shot clock on defense or until Wisconsin got a good look.

One of the few negatives from the win was the inability to knock down free throws. After hardly getting to the line throughout the game, mainly because UW was hitting open jump shots, Baylor started fouling with four minutes to go to try and extend the game. During that stretch, Wisconsin went 6-for-12 from the free throw line. Wisconsin finished the game 11-for-20 (55 percent) from the free throw line.

Defense: A

Wisconsin was able to consistently cut off passing lanes, alter shots or block shots down low, forcing Baylor to shoot 18-for-58 (31 percent) from the field and holding them to its lowest scoring first half of the season (16 points). With Wisconsin consistently causing pressure, it forced Baylor's top scoring threats to struggle to get off good shots. Cory Jefferson led Baylor with 15 points and Isaiah Austin and Kenny Chery each had 12 points.

Even though Chery reached double figures, he went 2-for-9 from the field. Like Chery, Brady Heslip struggled from the field to get off shots, consistently finding a hand in his face and getting hounded by Brust. Heslip finished the game with three points on 1-for-6 shooting.

Wisconsin was able to force Baylor into six turnovers. Even though Wisconsin wasn't able to force Baylor into a high number of turnovers, the defense was able to force a lot of one-and-done possessions and won the rebounding battle 39-33. Even when Baylor was able to grab an offensive rebound, Wisconsin made sure that Baylor didn't make much of the second chance opportunities, converting 11 second-chance opportunities into just seven points.

Wisconsin consistently taking away the paint forced Baylor to settle for perimeter shots, where Baylor finished the game 2-for-15 (13.3 percent). Baylor entered Thursday's game shooting 39 percent from three and making 7.5 3s a game.

Overall: A

The questions leading up to the game was if Wisconsin could find a way to beat the 1-3-1 zone. Not only did Wisconsin have success against the zone, the Badgers were able to force Baylor to switch to man-to-man to try and slow down UW's offense. Even after the switch, Wisconsin continued to create a balance offense like they have done so far through the tournament.

To put into perspective how dominant Wisconsin was not only on offense, Josh Gasser, Jackson, and Brust combined for 21 rebounds, which was better than the 17 rebounds of Baylor's frontcourt of Royce O'Neale, Austin and Jefferson. Gasser led the team with eight rebounds, Kaminsky and Hayes did a great job of boxing out Baylor, which allowed the Badger guards to attack the hoop.

Not only was Hayes active and score 10 of Wisconsin's 18 points off the bench, but he also was able to secure six rebounds and had two assists. Hayes ability to see passing lanes and get the basketball to an open teammate is quite impressive.

Duje Dukan was also impressive off the bench with five points on 2-for-3 shooting from the field. Dukan has scored in Wisconsin's last six games and has finally started to look for his shot on offense opposed to deferring to his teammates. With Dukan actively looking to be aggressive on offense, it has helped Wisconsin not lose a beat when either Kaminsky or Hayes is sitting.

Game MVP: Frank Kaminsky. This choice is easy. Kaminsky scored eight of Wisconsin's first 10 points and recorded a career-high six blocks. Kaminsky's dominance down low forced Baylor to switch out of its primary defense, which the junior also had success against. As good as Kaminsky was on offense, he couldn't have delivered a better performance on defense, consistently getting a hand on either Jefferson or Austin's shot. Kaminsky finished the game with four rebounds and three assists.

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