Here are three quick thoughts after Wisconsin cruised past UNLV in Madison, 62-51, in a game that lacked any real semblance of flow or intensity. Just an odd, passive performance, especially from the visiting Rebels.
1. Slow's a no-go for the Rebels, but not how you think. UNLV has struggled in its last three D-I games (all on the road), slipping past UC Santa Barbara before losing at Wichita State and Wisconsin. Those three games are three of the four slowest-tempo games the Rebels have played this season (along with its slogging win vs. USC). While the Rebels looked totally disjointed offensively vs. Wisconsin, most teams do; the Badgers entered the game No. 1 in the nation in defensive efficiency, per KenPom.com. More notably, this was the third straight game (and third time this season) the Rebels have allowed more than a point per possession defensively. They haven't fared well when teams keep them from running, but it appears to be at the defensive end where they lag more than normal, today's shooting performance aside.
2. Something is really not right with Jordan Taylor. It's hard to believe personnel changes are entirely to blame for Taylor's precipitous drop-off from last season's incredibly high standards. Losing Keaton Nankivil and Jon Leuer are presumed factors, but it's not just Taylor's efficiency that has declined while his turnovers have increased. Surprisingly, his possession usage and shot rate are down three and four percent from last year when there was more talent around him. That doesn't make sense, even if you believe Taylor is trying to integrate the younger Badgers early in the season. He went 0-10 from the floor against the Rebels, including missing all six threes, and his shot looked very flat. Combine that with his lack of explosiveness off the dribble, and you really wonder about the status of his surgically repaired ankle.
3. In Brust the Badgers trust. Sophomore guard Ben Brust made all seven of his threes. Everyone other than Ben Brust who played for either team shot a combined 8-31. It's not often you can point at one player or one stat that absolutely decides the game, but it was pretty easy to see where the difference was today. He has some quickness, can create his own shot and isn't shy to shoot when he's on the floor (over a 25 percent shot rate) -- which makes it interesting that Pomeroy's site compares his season so far to last year's Marcus Denmon. The Badgers surely would take 20 or more games of that kind of performance from a supporting caster. Of course, if he maintains his now almost-50 percent success rate on threes, that'll help matters.
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