Game Day Grades: Arkansas

Zak Showalter fights for the loose ball (AP)

LAS VEGAS - After falling to 0-2 against ranked teams, Wisconsin's comeback performance against Arkansas was just what the Badgers needed moving to a challenging stretch. Badger Nation hands out the grades.

Offense: C

Wisconsin struggled mightily in the first half. They shot the basketball poorly - going 10-for-31 (32.3 percent) from the floor - and couldn't take care of the basketball with eight turnovers. Good thing the adjustments Bo Ryan and his staff made (or the tongue lashing it gave) translated to better production, as the Badgers shot 66.7 percent (12-for-18) after halftime to finish the game with a 44.9 shooting percentage.

The Badgers had five players score in double figures, with Sam Dekker leading the way with 19 points off the bench. Ryan Evans shot 50 percent from the floor and added 12 points, Mike Breusewitz and Traevon Jackson each had 11 and Jared Berggren had 10 on 3-6 shooting.

Able to get to the free throw line often, the charity stripe was a struggle. Wisconsin shot 65.8 percent from the line (25-for-38) overall and an ugly 7-for-15 in the first half. Giving credit where credit is due, Wisconsin made 17 of its final 19 free throw attempts down the stretch and 18 of 23 in the second half to help Wisconsin win the game.

The Badgers ended the game with 11 turnovers and did a much better job of taking care of the basketball in the second half with only three turnovers. The Razorbacks' defense did a good job of pressuring Wisconsin and forcing them into bad passes in the first half, but there were other times where it was miscommunication on the Badgers' end. George Marshall and Jackson each had three turnovers. Jackson at times dribbled the basketball around too much which led to him turning the ball over.

Defense: C

Wisconsin's defense allowed Arkansas to get into its tempo in the first half, resulting in easy shot opportunities. The Razorbacks went 14-for-27 (51.9 percent) in the first half but finished the game 25-for-61 (41 percent).

There were too many plays on defense where the Badgers failed to block out an Arkansas player. Arkansas was able to pull down 14 offensive rebounds (13 in the second half), which led to 16 points for Arkansas (15 in the second half).

Besides the Razorbacks getting second-chance opportunities, the Badgers didn't do a good job of protecting the paint. The Razorbacks were able to get 42-points in the paint, 18 more than Wisconsin. Arkansas scored 20 of those points in the first half, which helped the Razorbacks build an 11-point halftime lead.

The Badgers defense at times also wasn't discipline, committing 18 personal fouls. Both Bruesewitz and Jackson each had four fouls. Wisconsin has to be disciplined and not send teams to the free throw line 25 times. Luckily, the Razorbacks only knocked down 17 of their free throws.

Overall: C

Wisconsin had to play a lot better in the second half in order to make up for its poor first half play. The Badgers went on a 16-5 run to start the second half to help erase an 11-point deficit. Ben Brust was able to score eight of those points, knocking down two three's and a fast-break layup on a fast break to help Wisconsin get back in the game.

Despite Bruesewitz getting into foul trouble, he still played a good game. Besides his 11 points he was one rebound shy of a double-double. He shot the basketball well - knocking down two critical three's and went 5-for-6 from the free throw lin.

Like Bruesewitz, Berggren was one rebound shy of a double-double. Berggren played well on the defensive side by blocking four of the team's five blocked shots.

Game MVP: Sam Dekker. Dekker scored a career-high 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting, 2-for-3 from the perimeter and 3-for-4 from the free throw line. Dekker's play in the second half was critical in helping Wisconsin make a comeback. He was able to drive the ball, work well without the ball in his hands and used his bevy of skills to get open looks.

Entering Saturday, Dekker had yet to put together a complete game, but put together two strong halves. He's going to be fun to watch over the next four years.

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