Badgers fail to contain Sullinger, go cold from outside

first_imgWith Ohio State coming to town, Wisconsin knew its biggest priority would be shutting down All-American forward Jared Sullinger.But that didn’t happen, as the No. 20 Badgers (18-6, 7-4) frequently allowed Sullinger to get the ball in comfortable position in the paint during Saturday afternoon’s 58-52 loss to the No. 3 Buckeyes (20-3, 8-2) at the Kohl Center. Sullinger finished with 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting and also pulled down 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season.Forward Jared Berggren, listed at 6-foot-10, 235 pounds, guarded the 6-foot-9, 280-pound Sullinger for much of the first half, in which Sullinger scored 16 of Ohio State’s 28 points. In the second half, the combination of forward Mike Bruesewitz and guard/forward Ryan Evans was used more frequently in an attempt to limit Sullinger from getting the ball in the paint.“Well, I just wanted people who wanted to move their feet and not allow a pass to enter the post,” head coach Bo Ryan said of using Bruesewitz and Evans on Sullinger. “That was an easy decision. How many post touches did he have after that”?Trailing 28-24 at halftime, Wisconsin’s biggest deficit came at the 12:23 mark in the second half following a pair of Sullinger free throws. Berggren played the first seven minutes of the second half, went to the bench for two minutes and then returned at the 10:16 mark. He subbed out at the 7:39 mark and did not return for the remainder of the game, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting, three rebounds and two blocks.“At the start of the game, I didn’t do a good job of limiting [Sullinger’s] touches,” Berggren said. “I let him get a couple easy ones early and that set the tone from there. A great player like him, once he gets a little bit of confidence, he’s hard to stop. A lot of it came early on, I let him get going and I’ve got to take a little blame for myself for that one.”Only two other players scored in double-digits for the Buckeyes – forward Deshaun Thomas with 16 points and guard William Buford scored 11 – as the majority of the OSU offense ran through Sullinger. Although the switch to Evans and Bruesewitz was noticeable, Ryan denied any intentional shift in Wisconsin’s game plan.“I’m not going to sell out any particular players or anything, but if anybody thinks that’s what we said we’re going to do coming into that game, then you weren’t at practices watching what was going on,” Ryan said.“We did not play him differently by assignment, by scouting report or anything else. It’s about execution. Some of those teams that doubled him paid – big time. It’s tough to say that we changed what we were doing. The instructions were the same.”Badgers stubbornly inefficient from outsideWisconsin was also consistent with its game plan on the offensive end Saturday afternoon.Despite shooting 2-for-14 from 3-point range in the first half, the Badgers attempted 13 more in the second and made just three. Ultimately, UW finished 5-for-27 (18.5 percent) from behind the arc, stunningly poor for a team that entered the weekend third in the Big Ten in three-point shooting at 36.6 percent.Although they didn’t fall often, Ryan said he liked the looks Wisconsin got from outside.“I thought they shut off stuff going to the rim, and so then you’ve got to go to what’s next, and that’s either kick across or kick out,” he said. “I liked the looks.”Just as the Badgers’ overall offense was balanced – four players scored in double figures – so was their tendency to shoot away from deep. Bruesewitz, who finished third with 11 points, was 1-for-6 from outside. Berggren was 2-for-6 from outside, and point guard Jordan Taylor was 1-for-4. Evans led UW in scoring with 14 points and was 0-2 from outside.“Everybody was getting open looks, we’ve got to knock them down,” Bruesewitz said. “We did a good job moving the ball, Jordan did a great job putting us in position. They were trying to take away him off of ball screens, he did a good job of getting rid of the ball when he needed to.”On Wisconsin’s first possession alone, the Badgers attempted two three-pointers as Berggren missed from deep and Evans corralled the offensive rebound. Taylor nailed a trey to give the Badgers a 3-2 lead, and then Berggren sunk another on their next possession. That three-pointer came at the 17:53 mark, and it was the last UW made in the first half.In the second, the Badgers missed their first three three-point attempts before Berggren made one with 15:35 left. That made the score 32-31 in favor of Ohio State, and it was the closest Wisconsin would come to the lead until 3:46, when a three by Bruesewitz narrowed the Buckeyes’ lead to 51-50.The bucket appeared to give Wisconsin legitimate momentum heading into the game’s final minutes as the Kohl Center was once again electrified, but the Badgers didn’t score until Taylor converted a layup with 43 seconds remaining.“I don’t know if it was an inability, I think we just – especially early in the first half – we missed Berggren and Ryan and myself, other guys in the post a little bit,” Bruesewitz said. “I think we needed to look inside a little bit, especially since our threes weren’t falling for us.”last_img read more

Read More »