MADISON – The University of Wisconsin had a weekend full of taming Bulldogs. They opened their season on Friday against South Carolina State, defeating them 85-50. On Sunday, the Bulldogs of Yale came to the Kohl Center and were turned away by score of 89-61.
Ethan Happ registered another double-double for Wisconsin, but also had a bit of an injury scare and continued woes at the free-throw line for the Badgers. Khalil Iverson stepped up to lead Wisconsin in scoring with 17 points after not attempting a shot on Friday night.
Yale got a strong performance from forward Blake Reynolds. He finished the night with 14 points on a very efficient six-of-eight shooting. Yale falls to 0-2 on the season.
Here are 14 last shots for D’Mitrik Trice’s 14 points scored on the evening.
1. Wisconsin has shown in both games this season that they’re able to score with numerous players. After Happ was the leader for Wisconsin against South Carolina State, Iverson scored a career-high 17 points as Wisconsin’s high scorer against Yale.
2. “I thought he [Iverson] was really energized from the start,” head coach Greg Gard said about the effort Iverson gave Sunday evening. “He really accepted the challenge Khalil [Iverson] didn’t shoot on Friday and had some turnovers. It’s the anniversary of his father’s passing this past week and I think that weighed on him and I could tell. I thought today he was his old self and rightfully so. I know that’s a difficult time having gone through it myself and I’m 20-plus years older than him.”
3. For the second game in a row, Wisconsin managed to be extremely balanced with their offensive output. In both games this season they’ve had four players reach double-figures. Against South Carolina State Andy Van Vliet, Brevin Pritzl, Trice, and Happ all scored 13 or more points. When Yale came to town Van Vliet, Trice, and Happ all scored at least 12, but Iverson was the fourth as opposed to Pritzl, who finished with six points and six rebounds.
4. Happ had another strong night for the Badgers. Early on, Yale was very determined to double-team him any time he touched the ball in the post. He did an excellent job of passing out of those situations to open teammates on the perimeter. He finished the night with 12 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes, for his second double-double in as many games.
5. Although his state line looks good Happ definitely has a few areas where he needs to continue to work offensively. He had a few blown opportunities near the rim that need to be finished against better competition. Happ also struggled from the free throw line, finishing four-of-eight from the charity stripe. In the first game against South Carolina State, Happ went four-of-nine from the line. Leaving points at the free throw line will come back to haunt the Badgers eventually.
6. Outside of Happ, Wisconsin had a productive night on free throws, shooting 16-of-18, with the lone misses coming from Van Vliet.
7. Happ left the floor at the halftime buzzer walking gingerly to the locker room. He did start the second half, however he had a sleeve on his knee, which was not present previously.
8. “It was the defensive possession before [the half] and I was sliding with [Miye] Oni,” Happ said about the tweak. “I just felt something in my knee. I got back up and once the adrenaline came down a little bit I felt something but I’m fine now and that’s all that matters.”
9. Wisconsin wasn’t afraid to shoot from distance on Sunday evening. They took 22 shots from behind the arc, hitting seven of them. That final number was boosted by a four-for-four stretch that started with roughly eight minutes remaining in the game. Prior to that they were a dismal 3-for-16 from deep.
10. “At times it was too quick,” Gard said about the three-point selection against Yale. “I thought specifically on a couple offensive rebounds, and I’ll have to go through the tape to see exactly how open we were, but I thought there were a couple times when we had offensive rebounds and we could have made it hurt a little bit more and we took quick shots that maybe weren’t that open or we weren’t set or depending who took it.”
11. Van Vliet had the most attempts from three-point range, shooting two-of-five from behind the arc. In all, 11 of the 13 players that saw the court attempted at least one three-pointer. The two who did not were Matt Ferris and Aaron Moesch. They combined for one total shot in seven minutes after the game was already in hand.
12. There will be nights when Wisconsin is able to shoot lights out from distance, and that very well could win them a game or two. The flip side of that is things could very easily go the other way and getting three-point happy could cost them a game when they go cold.
13. Yes, that means even Happ took a three-pointer. It was the first of his career and was taken at the 14:18 mark of the first half.
14. Wisconsin is in action next on Thursday night when Xavier University is at the Kohl Center. The Musketeers opened the season ranked 16th. Tip-off is at 7:30pm.