Wisconsin put five players in double figures and shot 11-23 from beyond the arc as they knocked off a talented and athletic St. John’s team, 86-75.
Josh Gasser led the way with 19 points, but it was the 16 points from Sam Dekker and 15 points from Ben Brust that really made the difference in this one.
The biggest concern with Wisconsin heading into the season was the fact that they will be playing the majority of this season with a three-guard lineup, and on Friday night, that didn’t appear to be an issue. The Badgers were able to spread the floor against the Johnnies, attacking gaps in their matchup-zone and creating open shot after open shot.
The Badgers are going to be a nightmare for teams with more traditional lineups to try and defend. Sam Dekker has the height of a power forward but the perimeter skills of an off-guard. He’s an all-american caliber talent, and asking a big man to try and stay with him on the perimeter is a tall task.
As has become the standard for Bo Ryan teams, they also managed to find scoring from a place where you absolutely wouldn’t expect it. On Friday, it was Duje Dukan, a redshirt junior that barely made a scouting report, who went off for 15 points. Dukan is a prototypical Badger big man, as he can step out and knock down a three, further spreading the floor.
The Johnnies got off to a tough start in this one, digging themselves a 33-15 hole. They were able to get the lead down to four in the second half, but the Badgers immediately responded with a pair of threes to push the lead back to ten, a spurt that looked like it demoralized St. John’s.
D’angelo Harrison and JaKarr Sampson both looked like all-Big East player, finishing with 48 points combined. But the rest of St. John’s lineup looked a bit lost. There’s a ton of talent on potential there, but it will be interesting to see if Lavin is able to tap into it. Granted, this was a tough matchup — in a game being played in South Dakota of all places — for this team, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.
One thing to keep an eye on: St. John’s doesn’t really have a low-post scorer on their roster. Wisconsin doesn’t really have a big man that can defend on the block. It will be interesting to see what happens when the Badgers face a team with a real front court scorer.