Rapid Reaction: Wisconsin 70 Green Bay 56

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The Badgers continued their winning ways at the Kohl Center with a 70-56 victory over the Green Bay Phoenix.  The win  marks a sweep of the three in-state rivals for the first time since 2006-07 and the sixth time in the Bo Ryan era.

Wisconsin (9-2) also avenged an 88-84 overtime loss to the Phoenix (4-7) in Green Bay last season. Since the loss to Notre Dame on November 28th, the Badgers have reeled off five straight wins.

By: Nick Grays

What It Means: The Badgers continue to dominate on the defensive side of the ball. They lead the Big Ten and are tied for third in the nation in scoring defense at 53.9 points per game. The Badgers have held eight of their ten opponents under 60 points in a game this season.

This should be expected of a Bo Ryan-coached basketball team as Wisconsin has finished among the nation’s top 10 in scoring defense in six of the last eight seasons. If the Badgers can take this discipline and execution into conference play, they will surely have a say in how the Big Ten shakes out.

Player of the Game: Senior Forward Keaton Nankivil

Here’s that third-scorer the Badgers have been desperately looking for. Nankivil has now posted double-digit points in three straight games. Against the Phoenix, Nankivil couldn’t miss from long-range while going 4-of-5 for 16 points. It was evident that Green Bay was looking to limit the damage inflicted from stars Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor, which opened up the floor for the 6-8 Nankivil. He made sure to make his defensive presence known as well with four blocks and six rebounds.

Sophomore forward Mike Bruesewitz also put together a nice game with a career-high 18 points on a blistering 6-of-8 from the floor.

Just another normal day at work for Leuer who posted yet another 20+ point game with 22 points and eight rebounds.

Highlight of the Night: The game was cruising along until late in the first half when Leuer injected the entire Kohl Center with a dose of excitement. With 59 seconds left, Leuer faked to his left, drove the baseline, and threw down a reverse dunk to give the Badgers a 31-19 lead. The impressive dunk has to be the Badgers‘ best at this point in the season.

Stat of the Game: Prior to the battle with Green Bay, Wisconsin lead the nation in fewest turnovers per game with 9.3. Not much should change as the Badgers committed only ten turnovers versus the Phoenix on Monday. Taylor continues to excel in the swing offense as the starting point guard dished out six assists compared to only three turnovers. The Badgers are mighty tough to beat when they protect the ball and play stifling defense.

Quotables: I wasn’t the only one who liked what I saw out of Nankivil on Monday Night as Bo Ryan described what kind of player Keaton is.

“I’ve never used that term [clean-up guy]. I’ve used mixer, but usually mixers can’t shoot the ball the way Keaton can. So, he’s a shooting mixer. He did some good things, he has been,” said Ryan.

The Badgers shot a season-high 58.8% from three-point range. Bruesewitz talked about how they were able to succeed from behind the arc.

“We were moving the ball and making tough cuts. Jordan was distributing the ball extremely ball like he has been all year. They were making switches and doubling us up, so we made the extra pass and found people open,” said Bruesewitz.

What’s Next:
Time for final exams in Madison, thus the Badgers will be taking nine days off before they welcome in the Coppin State Eagles (4-2) on Thursday, December 23rd. This will be Wisconsin’s last non-conference opponent before they delve into conference play on the 28th versus Minnesota. Coppin State has quite the gauntlet  ahead of them as the Badgers mark game two of a brutal five-game road trip with stops to play #4 Connecticut, Wisconsin, Hampton, #16 Kentucky and #25 Texas.

Did the Badgers appropriately avenge last season’s overtime loss to the Green Bay Phoenix? Are the Badgers ready for Big Ten play? Let me know by commenting below!

Rapid Reaction Archive:
Wisconsin 99 Prairie View A&M 55 (11-14-10)
Wisconsin 85 North Dakota 53 (11-16-10)
Wisconsin 87 NC State 48 (12-1-10)
Wisconsin 61 Milwaukee 40 (12-8-10)

Follow Nick Grays on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.

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