Hampered by their worst shooting performance in nearly a decade, the Wisconsin Badgers (4-3) fell to the No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (4-0) in a blowout Sunday, losing 65-48.
For nearly the duration of the game, Wisconsin struggled mightily from the field. The team finished the day shooting an abysmal 23.5 percent and couldn’t get its 3-pointers to fall either, as it shot 21.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Though Oklahoma played relatively stout defense, the Badgers also couldn’t capitalize on their open-look shots, especially those in the paint.
“When we had the opportunities in the paint, we didn’t finish. I’m really disappointed in that,” head coach Bo Ryan told the Associated Press.
Nigel Hayes produced a double-double, as he led the Badgers with 20 points and 11 rebounds, but the rest of the team did not contribute significantly.
Star guard Bronson Koenig, who leads the team with an average of 16.1 points per game, had one of his worst shooting performances of his career, as he shot 3-of-18 from the field and only contributed nine points.
The promising freshman duo of Charlie Thomas and Khalil Iverson had little impact as well. Combined, they only generated five points and three rebounds while adding two turnovers and three fouls. With Wisconsin using a seven-man rotation, the two needed to step up more to have any chance against one of the best teams in the nation.
Aside from their ice-cold shooting performance, the Badgers struggled immensely on defense. While they did contain All-American guard Buddy Hield to 12 points, they still could not stop the other playmakers on the Sooners’ roster.
Oklahoma had several uncontested 3-pointers, as they knocked down four in the first half. It also dominated Wisconsin in the paint, outscoring them 34-10. The Badgers’ lack of interior size contributed to this disparity.
While the loss certainly exposed the youth and inexperience of Wisconsin, the team showed glimpses of improvement with its efficiency. Coming into Sunday, the Badgers had been plagued with turnover issues, as they nearly averaged 14 per game, but in Sunday’s loss, they cut that average in half and had only seven.
With a slate of vigorous nonconference opponents still approaching, Wisconsin will have to learn fast from their mistakes to keep games from getting out of hand.
Wednesday, the Badgers will face another tough test in a hostile environment as they head to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., to face off against the Syracuse Orange at 6:15 p.m. as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
UWBadgers.com contributed to this report.