The Minnesota Golden Gophers traveled to Madison to face the Wisconsin Badgers in a battle for the border. Saturday's game featured teams heading in exact opposite directions. Minnesota was coming off tough losses to Indiana and Northwestern while Wisconsin hasn't lost for over a month.
The Golden Gophers kept the game close throughout most of the 1st half, but a 7-2 run Wisconsin run gave the Badgers an 8 point lead at the half. Wisconsin maintained this lead throughout the 2nd half and finished with a 63-53 victory.
What We Learned
There's no excuse for only attempting one free-throw in a game
Minnesota only had one attempt from the line on Saturday afternoon. That is inexcusable. The Golden Gophers have to be more aggressive in taking the ball to the paint. Wisconsin has an outstanding defense, but that isn't a reason to not attack the rim. The Badgers do need credit for this as well. They only committed 7 fouls in the whole game and had 9 blocked shots. Wisconsin made Minnesota a jump shooting team, which is exactly what they wanted to do.
Bronson Koenig's terrific month of February keeps going
Koenig finished the day with 17 points. He is averaging just under 14 points a game this month. He has shown this month that he can be that 3rd scoring option that the Badgers need in the NCAA Tournament. We all know how good offensively Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker are, but they'll need someone else to carry the offensive load from time to time. Kaminsky had a poor offensive game on Saturday afternoon, but Koenig was there to pick him up. The Badgers hope he can keep his offensive production going well into March.
Minnesota can provide offense from the bench
The Golden Gopher's reserves scored 24 of their 53 points. Deandre Mathieu and Carlos Morris contributed 11 points each. Both players have had terrific seasons thus far for Minnesota. It's nice to see both of them put up points like that against a solid defense like Wisconsin. The Golden Gophers would've been in good shape if they could've gotten solid games like this from their starters.
Frank Kaminsky makes 21 point games look commonplace
Kaminsky finished with 21 points on 9-13 shooting. He has shown time and time again that he is the most dominant player in the Big Ten. Saturday afternoon was just another example of that. Just like most opponents this season, Minnesota had no answer for Kaminsky.
Minnesota looked much better in the loss to Wisconsin than they have the last few games. Hopefully this performance against the Badgers is something they can build on as they head into the final stretch of the season.
The Badgers took care of business on Saturday and continued their domination of the Big Ten this season. Their schedule gets tougher from here. They still have Maryland, Michigan State, and Ohio State left on the schedule. This will be the first time they play each of those teams. I'm excited to see how the Badgers will do against some of the other top teams in the conference.