After disappointing loss, Badgers return home against lowly Chicago State

Nigel Hayes and the rest of the Badgers will look to improve from three-point range tonight. 

Image By: Jessi Schoville

Thirty-nine three-pointers, 16 turnovers and five free throws. Those are just a few of the numbers that jump out from No. 9 Wisconsin’s (1-1) 79-67 loss to No. 22 Creighton (2-0) earlier this week.

UW’s box score from Tuesday night looks less like that of a classic Badger team and more like that of a pickup game at a local gym.

The Badgers learned Tuesday night that they have a lot of room to grow. Thursday night against Chicago State (1-0), UW hopes to play with more poise and more importantly, make shots as it looks for its second victory.

“When you’re making three-pointers, it puts pressure on them [UW’s opponents] to get out of their double-teams or to do something different,” assistant coach Howard Moore said. “We were in a position where the shots weren’t falling like we’d want, so now we feel a little bit more pressure to make those shots or to get into a different type of offensive situation and we just didn’t capitalize.”

The Badgers attempted 39 three-point field goals Tuesday night, one shy of a school record, but made only 11 of their attempts.

Senior forward Nigel Hayes attempted nine of those 39, but only made three.

Almost all of Hayes’ shots came early in the game, as the Badger forward’s lone attempt in the game’s final eight minutes came with just under 15 seconds to go when the result was clear.

“He’s gotta’ be aggressive. He’s gotta’ want the ball. He’s gotta’ cut to get the ball,” Moore said. “We made some calls to try to get him some touches in there. Obviously they’re going to fight and scramble and keep us from getting it to him, but we can’t float, we can’t space away a little bit and not get the ball in those situations.”

If Hayes has floated at times this season, then senior guard Bronson Koenig has become a bee that is always buzzing in opponents’ faces. Koenig has already taken 31 shots this season and is shooting 45 percent from the field.

The senior guard attempted a field goal on the Badgers’ final seven possessions of Tuesday’s game, as he tried to almost single handedly bring UW back into the game.

Lucky for the Badgers, Thursday night’s matchup against Chicago State appears to be much more forgiving.

The Cougars were a mere 4-28 last season and went winless in their conference. Fred Sims Jr., led Chicago State in scoring, averaging just under 11 points per game, but shot a mere 35 percent from the field.

As a team, Chicago State only shot 38 percent last season, and was 30 percent from three.

While the Cougars won their season opener against Illinois Tech over the weekend, 97-86, Thursday’s matchup with the Badgers will bring an entirely different level of competition.

But no matter the ability of its opponent, Wisconsin recognizes the importance of getting out to a strong start.

“You give up a couple shots early, they get into a rhythm, they get comfortable, they get confident and that’s what you don’t want to have,” Moore said. “So you gotta’ set the tone right off the bat, right off the tip.”

Tipoff is at 7 p.m. as the Badgers return home, hoping poise and a few more three-point buckets will follow.

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