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Three quick takeaways from the Badgers 71-49 win over Western Illinois

The Badgers overcame a short second-half blip to comfortably win on Monday night.

NCAA Basketball: Fort Myers Tip-Off-Virginia at Wisconsin Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers comfortably beat the Western Illinois Leathernecks 71-49 on Monday night, putting together one of their most efficient performances of the season en route to a 22-point victory.

Offensively, the Badgers shot 53 percent from the field, 36 percent from three, and 81 percent from the line, averaging 1.34 points per possessions. However, their 53 possessions was their lowest mark of the season, which is why the point total may not reflect the high efficiency.

Defensively, Wisconsin neutralized top scorer James Dent, who still had 17 points, but on 4/12 from the field, while Western Illinois shot 39.5 percent from the field as a whole.

Here are the quick takeaways from the Badgers 71-49 win over Western Illinois.

Efficiency

As I mentioned above, the Badgers were incredibly efficient on Monday night, averaging 1.348 points per possession, a remarkable mark.

Moreover, they were consistent for a majority of the game, as they scored 35 points on 52/43/80 splits in the first half, while earning 36 points on 54/33/83 splits in the second half.

It was a difference outcome in the two halves, as the Badgers focused on the interior early, scoring 16 paint points, while earning 10 free throws in the first half, as 16 of the team’s 23 first half shots came inside the arc.

In the second half, Wisconsin saw more three pointers fly, as 15 of their 24 shots came from behind the arc, of which they made five. But, their 8/9 efficiency from inside the arc kept their field goal percentage high, while the Badgers still attacked the rim, shooting 16 second-half free throws.

The Badgers have shown over the last three games that they can win in a variety of ways: with their defense, pace, and now efficiency.

Chucky takeover

In the second half, there was an initial blip from the Badgers, who allowed Western Illinois to cut the lead from 16 to 8 with a 15-7 run to begin the half.

From there, the Leathernecks were able to keep it to within 10 points until... the Chucky Hepburn show began.

Hepburn, who has been criticized in the past for his shot selection when looking to take over games, was on fire. The guard scored 11 consecutive points, shooting 5/6 during a stretch in the second half, that ultimately sealed the deal for Wisconsin.

To begin the season, Hepburn’s decision-making has been highlighted, as the guard has looked to attack more, leading to opportunities for both him and his teammates.

Additionally, the guard has showcased that second gear to take over games and that was on display again Monday.

Minutes

In a nonconference game like Monday’s against Western Illinois, it’s tough to have takeaways with the minutes distribution, but head coach Greg Gard employed intriguing lineups on the day.

With Carter Gilmore dealing with an injury, the Badgers went to Markus Illver, who was one of the first off the bench for Wisconsin on Monday alongside Nolan Winter.

Illver finished the game with 14 minutes, his second-highest output of the season behind the season opener.

Elsewhere, A.J. Storr saw just six minutes of action in the second half after scoring 11 points in 12 minutes during the first half, with the Badgers going more with John Blackwell and Connor Essegian in an assortment of minutes.

Blackwell ultimately led the Badgers reserves in minutes once again, outplaying Storr 18 to 17.

Now, you do have to take the minute distributions with a grain of salt, considering the score in both halves, but it’ll be intriguing to see how Gard continues to divvy up the minutes with a much deeper bench this season.