Observations/Grades From Wisconsin Basketball’s Throttling of Oklahoma

NCAA Basketball Tournament - East Regional - Wisconsin v Notre Dame


The 17th ranked Wisconsin Badgers blew out the Oklahoma Sooners in front of a sellout crowd at the Kohl Center. The Badgers were led by 28 points and six assists from Nigel Hayes, who posted his best game of the season in three straight games. D’Mitrik Trice, Bronson Koenig, and Ethan Happ had 16 points each.

Despite the final score, the game wasn’t always a blowout. The Badgers had an eight point deficit late in the first half, and went into halftime trailing. Oklahoma’s half time lead was a product of their lights out shooting (50% FG, 63% 3FG) and the Badger’s poor defense. But the Sooners cooled off in the second half, and Wisconsin took the reins.


Wisconsin is now on a three-game winning streak, with all three of the victories by 17 points or more. Syracuse and Oklahoma are both NCAA Tournament caliber teams, so it is not like the Badgers have just been beating up on cupcakes. After some early season struggles, Wisconsin is starting to look as good as we thought they would.

-After the Prairie View A&M game, I wrote that Nigel Hayes had his best game of the season. Two days later, I wrote the same thing after the Syracuse game. Now, I’m writing it again. Hayes has been unstoppable over the last three games. He is attacking the rim, drawing fouls, dishing out assists, and hitting his midrange jump shots. He is looking like the All-American we thought he could be. 

-Khalil Iverson is still raw offensively, but at this point, it doesn’t even matter. He is so good at everything else. He is the best defender on the team. He dives for loose balls, he grabs tough rebounds, and he throws down monster dunks. What he contributes to the team doesn’t always show up in the box score, but he provides such great energy off the bench, and deserves to be on the court more. 

-D’Mitrik Trice is really good for a freshman. He is quick, a good passer, and is a lights out shooter. He is hitting 65% from deep this season, including 4/4 today. That is ridiculous. The combination of Trice and Brevin Pritzl is going to set all kinds of shooting records for Wisconsin over the next four years.

-Ethan Happ needs to work on his free throws. With his skill and quickness in the post, he is going to keep drawing a ton of fouls. If he can’t improve his free throw shooting, he is going to leave a lot of points on the court.

-Having more than one of Iverson, Happ, and Thomas on the court at the same time hurts the offensive spacing. That is a problem, because Iverson and Happ are Wisconsin’s two best defenders. They both need to be on the floor a lot. But it is clear that the offense looks better when only one of them is in. 

-I like when Koenig and Trice are on the court at the same time. Koenig is at his best when he is shooting off the catch, and moving him off the ball allows him to get better looks.

-To go off that, Wisconsin’s three guard lineups also look really good. When any three of Koenig, Hill, Showalter, and Trice are in at the same time, Wisconsin’s spacing and ball movement is tremendous.


Bronson Koenig (16 points, 6-15 FG, 4-10 3FG, two assists): B+

Zak Showalter (five points, 1-5 3FG, three rebounds, one assist, one steal): B-

Nigel Hayes (28 points, 6 assists): A+

Vitto Brown (five points, 1-5 3FG, three rebounds, one block, one turnover): C-

Ethan Happ (16 points, 7-9 FG, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks, two turnovers): B+

D’Mitrik Trice (16 points, 6-8 FG, 4-4 3FG): A+

Charles Thomas (eight minutes, 0-1 FG, one assist, one turnover, three fouls): D+

Khalil Iverson (four points, four rebounds, one steal): A-

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