Brust, boards go together
MADISON Don’t ask Ben Brust what’s driving his recent prowess on the boards.
But four games into the season, don’t doubt it, either.
The 6-foot, 1-inch guard scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds Tuesday night as Wisconsin beat Presbyterian 88-43.
It was his third double-double of the season, and he became the first Wisconsin player to record three double-doubles in a four-game stretch since Mike Wilkinson did it in the 2004-05 season.
Presbyterian shot just 36 percent for the game, and Brust knows there will be nights later in the season when he won’t have as many opportunities as he did Tuesday. For now, he’s just taking advantage of the opportunities presented to him.
“I wish I had a good answer,” Brust said. “Sometimes I’ve just been playing this game for so long I just kind of have a knack for where it’s going to be, watch the angle of the shot, where it’s going to hit the rim and time it and go get it.”
It also continued to mark an impressive improvement on the boards for Brust, who averaged just 2.2 rebounds a game last season, and continues to mystify his coach.
“What the hell is going on?” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan joked after the game. “He’s got a nose for the ball. I’ve said it before. As the sample size gets bigger, how can a guy do that at his size as many times?”
It was an all-around offensive display for the Badgers (3-1), who shot 52 percent for the game, had 24 assists on 33 field goals and committed just six turnovers.
“We knew we were going to get good looks, but getting a great look is obviously something we did,” Brust said. “It was pretty good ball movement across the board, pretty balanced.”
Sam Dekker came off the bench to score 16 for Wisconsin, while George Marshall added 12 and Frank Kaminsky 10.
Khalid Mutakabbir scored 14 to lead Presbyterian (0-4), and Joshua Clyburn had 10.
The Badgers jumped on the Blue Hose early and ran away with it. Presbyterian connected on only one of its first 10 shots and was already down 20 points midway through the first half after Marshall connected on a 3-pointer.
Kaminsky converted a three-point play with just more than 2 minutes left in the half to push the lead to 25 points, and Wisconsin poured it on from there.
After shooting 6 of 20 from behind the 3-point line in the first half, Wisconsin continued to rain 3s on the Blue Hose in the second period. But the Badgers also started connecting at a much better clip. They finished 16 of 37 for the game and pushed their lead to 50 points with 7 minutes left after Ryan Evans connected on a short jumper.
Ryan said the Badgers did a good job of moving the ball in the first half, sometimes passing up the first good look they had. That, combined with Presbyterian being on the road for four games in eight days, wore down the Blue Hose in the second half.
“That contributed to the better percentage in the second half, and also I think a few more times we made that extra pass,” Ryan said.
It was the fourth straight blowout loss for Presbyterian, which lost its previous three games by an average of more than 25 points. That includes an 87-58 loss last week to No. 14 Creighton, which now will face Wisconsin on Friday as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational.
Presbyterian coach Gregg Nibert said he didn’t think anyone could shoot better against the Blue Hose zone than Creighton did in hitting 62 percent of its shots. But even though the Bluejays hit a better percentage from the field, he said Wisconsin was more impressive.
“Whenever we made a mistake, they made us pay,” Nibert said. “We’ve played a lot of good teams in this five years of us being Division I, but that was the greatest display of shooting and passing that I have seen.”