Rushed Reactions: #2 Wisconsin 75, #15 American 35Posted by Walker Carey on March 20th, 2014
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Three Key Takeaways.
- The talent disparity was quite evident. While American started quickly out of the gates and threw off Wisconsin’s offensive rhythm a bit with its defensive attack, it quickly became apparent how different the two teams are from a talent standpoint (and that is a pretty common in #2/#15 match-ups). American led 19-13 at the 7:05 mark of the first half, but from that point forward, Wisconsin outscored the Eagles by a margin of 62-16. Winning the Patriot League Tournament title is a great accomplishment for the Eagles, but its performance against Wisconsin displayed that American just does not have the talent necessary to compete with the high-major programs in the NCAA Tournament.
- Ben Brust woke Wisconsin up after an early lull. With 7:05 remaining in the first half, American held a 19-13 lead and Wisconsin’s offense was struggling mightily to get anything going. Enter Ben Brust. The senior guard scored eight points over the remainder of the half to help carry his team to a 10-point halftime lead. While the rest of Brust’s teammates eventually got going in the lopsided second half – most notably Traevon Jackson, who finished with 18 points – it was Brust who got woke up the Badgers after what was an uninspiring start to the game. Senior leadership is often an important factor in a team’s success and Wisconsin showed that it has that courtesy of an experienced veteran in Brust.
- Wisconsin’s defense does deserve some credit. It would be easy to attribute American’s 15.8 percent — you read that correctly — shooting performance in the second half just to its poor offense. While the Eagles were very poor on that end of the court, it should be recognized that Wisconsin’s defense was suffocating all afternoon. The Badgers forced 17 turnovers and made something as simple as moving the ball a very difficult task for Mike Brennan‘s squad. All season it has been said that this is not a normally strong Bo Ryan defense, but holding an NCAA Tournament team to 13 points in a half is a very impressive feat that should be recognized.
Player(s) of the Game. Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson, Wisconsin. The backcourt tandem of Brust and Jackson was an offensive powerhouse in this victory. Brust finished the afternoon with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting overall from the field and a 4-of-7 performance from behind the three-point line. Jackson, who has been up and down offensively for most of his Wisconsin career, was up against American. He finished the victory with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 shooting from distance.
Quotable. “Hey, don’t give ’em no hope.” — Wisconsin guard Traevon Jackson on what he said to teammate Sam Dekker before the second half began.
Sights and Sounds. The Bradley Center, which is just about 75 miles away from Madison, was overtaken by Wisconsin fans for the game. The Badger faithful arrived early and were loud throughout the lopsided victory. For a #15 seed that is located in Washington, D.C., American actually brought a nice contingent of fans with it to Milwaukee. Included in that contingent was Turner Sports analyst David Aldridge, who is an alumnus of the university.
What’s Next? Wisconsin advances to the round of 32 on Saturday where it will meet the winner of Thursday afternoon’s Oregon/BYU game.