While the story of this loss will certainly be a familiar one, poor shooting, I sure liked watching Deshaun Thomas. Mostly because of the way he responded to the slow start. Bucky was looking good early and Thomas was taking and missing tough shots. 4 of his first 5 shots were contested jumpers and he missed all 4 (his lone make was driving layup). However from that point on Thomas did what all great scorers do when they are struggling, he got to the paint. He got there over and over. Mind you these were not easy layups, but he got himself close in attempts and got himself going. His next 5 FG attempts were all in the paint and all makes (he did get 3 free throws off a 3 point attempt Evans foolishly fouled him on). From his last missed jumper at the 14:07 mark in the first half Thomas went 7-7 until finally missing another jumper at the 9 minute mark in the 2nd half. Thomas made a couple jumpers in the 2nd half, including one ridiculous one over Evans who played him about as well as anyone could. Overall he was 10-17 for 25 points and had 4 assists. In a game in which OSU only scored 58, Thomas was dominant.
Could the Badgers have guarded him differently? Sure, but that would have left them exposed in other areas. I have a hard time criticizing the strategy, but it will be interesting to see if Bo makes adjustments for the rematch in Madison. It's not like Thomas was getting uncontested layups, he was making tough shots. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a great player having a great performance.
Shooting again is the difference. At least free throws didn't cost them the game. Evans is getting worse and worse as he went 1-10 tonight with 3 turnovers. Through the Badgers 4-0 start Evans shot a more than respectable 20-39. Over the last 4 games Evans has gone 9-39 and the Badgers have gone 1-3. I don't think Evans is going to stop shooting, so the Badgers only hope is that he starts making them like he did in the first 4 games. To his credit he has not let the poor offensive showings effect his defense. He routinely matches up on the opponents best forward, and he is rebounding the ball very well.
I like the way Jackson is coming on. He still struggles with his handle, and he had 3 more turnovers tonight. What I like is his shot. He has hit the elbow jumper off the dribble consistently all year, but now he is getting to the rim on occasion. Mostly what I like is his 3 point shot. Early in the year it seemed to take forever for him to get the shot off, and it looked there was a hitch. Now he is letting it go with confidence. The speed of the release looks much quicker and the hitch is gone. My guess is they were both caused by hesitation about taking the shot. Now that he's more comfortable and has seen some go through the net the shot looks much better.