January 28, 2009

The good, bad and ugly from Purdue loss

MADISON, Wis. - Bo Ryan picked up a couple of firsts Tuesday night against Purdue, and it was not the type he likes to attain. For the first time under Ryan, Wisconsin has lost five straight games and two games in a row at the Kohl Center.

Now, nearly halfway through the conference slate, the Badgers sit 3-5 in Big Ten play and 12-8 overall and are a far cry from Ryan's typical UW teams. Some good came out of Tuesday's game, but as is typical with a loss, the bad usually outweighs any triumphs. BadgerBlitz.com looks back at Tuesday's 64-63 loss to the Boilermakers.


Keaton Nankivil

Ever since the opening intrasquad scrimmage in October, Badger fans were waiting for UW's vaunted sophomore to break out and showcase his talent in a game that counted. After Tuesday night, that wait is over. The Madison native scored a career and game high 21 points that included a perfect 5-for-5 mark from beyond the three-point line.

"We know what Keaton can do," UW freshman guard Jordan Taylor said. "On any given night, we probably have five or six guys who can go out and do what Keaton did, and tonight Keaton just happened to be the guy."

It was a game that seemed to have everything going in UW's favor. When Nankivil banked in a three from the top of the key, the Kohl Center erupted and the Badgers had opened a five-point margin over a feisty Purdue squad.

However, as has been the story of the past two weeks, the Badgers were unable to hold the lead, despite the sophomore's breakout performance.

"For me, a lot of times, if I make one (three-point shot) it's lucky," Nankivil said. "But after losing one game and now five in a row, I think that is the least important thing. We have to figure out a way to get back on track."


One of the main concerns following the Badgers loss to Illinois over the past weekend was its knack for taking minutes off and not playing typical, hard-nosed UW basketball. Against Purdue, Wisconsin did go through some scoring droughts, but for the most part the intensity was evident from the get go.

When Joe Krabbenhoft crushed Purdue's Lewis Jackson with a thunderous screen at mid-court, it was made perfectly clear that the Badgers were ready to play in a must win game. Unfortunately, while the intensity was present, the end result still did not sway in UW's favor.

"It would be nice, the timeliness of shots, to play with a little bit more of a lead if you can," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "Even if you have it, it's not secure, the other team is trying to get it done too. I like the way that we came back several times during this game, but the common thread is we didn't get enough points."


First half defense:

In a game that ends up being decided by one-point, it has to be even more frustrating for the Badger players and coaches when they look back at the film and notice how easy some buckets were coming for Purdue in the first half.

Overall, the Boilermakers shot 65 percent from the floor in the opening frame and seemingly had no problem getting the ball to the rim after receiving a screen at the top of the key. When Ryan was asked about what changed from his team's first half defense in the second half, he simply responded:

"You stop the ball."

Scoring droughts:

There were two stretches that saw the Badgers struggle to tickle the twine in Tuesday night's game. In the first half, UW went cold near the end of the second half as Purdue went on a sizable run to take a six-point lead into the locker room.

But more importantly, as UW fought back in the second half, the Badgers squandered the opportunity to take the lead from Purdue in the middle of the final period.

With the score set at 40-39, UW missed six shots, four of which were inside eight feet, that would have given the Badgers the lead as Purdue was stagnant over the nearly four minute stretch.

"(We) Got some looks," Ryan said. "We missed shots around the basket. You have to finish eight feet and in. I've listened to a lot of other coaches when they say that, you find yourself saying that, and it's true. You have to finish when you get the ball in the paint. We didn't finish enough."

Then, as Purdue was in the midst of scoring on five of its final six possessions, the Badgers were struggling to find the net. Over the final two minutes of the game, UW only scored two points before Trevon Hughes hit an uncontested three as time expired to make the final margin one.

"It's frustrating when the other team makes lucky shots and we can't even buy a basket," Hughes said. "We just got to be strong, mentally strong and just put it past us, go play and don't worry about shots not falling."


Back-to-back-to-back Purdue three-point shots late in game:
The only way Purdue was going to get back in the game when it was trailing by five points in the final five minutes was if it got its perimeter shots to fall, because UW was making anything inside the paint difficult to come by.

Well, the Boilermakers key players Keaton Grant, Chris Kramer and Robbie Hummel all stepped up and connected on three straight three-pointers that gave the Boilermakers the lead, one the Badgers could not ultimately come back from.

"You know you took away their drives to the basket that they got in the first half, and you know you're going to have to help and recover," Ryan said. "But, you know, they were big moments for them, and their players hit them."

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