MADISON — No. 21 Wisconsin dominated Iowa 65-45 on Senior Night and moved a step closer to a coveted double bye in the Big Ten tournament.
Player of the Game: Ethan Happ
Happ showed off his full repertoire in his final home game. Sure, he scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, but he also helped break Iowa’s press, hit a career-high 11 free throws, had two blocks, a pair of steals and held Hawkeyes’ big man Tyler Cook to zero points.
“It was very satisfying to play a complete game,” Happ said. “I’ve always prided myself on that throughout my career. To not only do things offensively, but defensively help out, steals, rebounds, blocks, whatever it may be. I’ve always tried to be an everything guy. And I did a little bit of everything tonight, which is gratifying to do on my last night here.”
The good: Khalil Iverson
You never know if a senior is going to rise to the occasion as his time starts to run short, but that’s exactly what Iverson has done in the last few weeks. He was at it again on Thursday, compiling the first double-double of his career with 11 points and 11 rebounds. He’s now scored in double figures in four of his last five games and continued to be Wisconsin’s best on-ball defender.
“He’s done a lot of work in the shadows, so it’s nice these last couple weeks for him to really hit the spotlight,” Happ said. “You all see how talented he really is. He’s not good at (video games) or ping pong, but he can play out there.”
The not so good: Long-range shooting
Wisconsin’s backcourt continued to struggle from the outside. The starting duo of Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice went a combined 2 of 9 from deep on Thursday. Over the last three games, they are 5-for-28 from beyond the arc. The Badgers have gotten a lift from the bench of late, but they need these two guys to start hitting their 3-pointers again.
Stat of the game: 45
Obviously, that’s the number of points Iowa scored. It’s the fewest for the Hawkeyes this season by 20 points and it’s the fewest they’ve scored against Wisconsin since 2000.
What they said:
Greg Gard on Ethan Happ winning the game before it even started
“He racked up these stats yesterday at practice. He won the game yesterday. How he practiced yesterday was as good as he’s been all year. That’s something we’ve been trying to encourage. Encourage is a nice word I’ll use. How he practices every single day. His energy, his body language, his everything, was off the charts yesterday.”
In Case You Missed It:
— Iowa was without head coach Fran McCaffery for a second straight game. He was suspended for an incident with an official after a recent game. The student section chanted, “Where’s your coach?” at different times throughout the game. McCaffery’s son, Connor, had six points on the night. When he had the ball the student section chanted, “Where’s your dad?”
— The win was Wisconsin’s first by double digits since at Nebraska on Jan. 29. Gard joked he wasn’t quite sure what to do in the final minutes with such a big lead.
— In addition to Happ and Iverson, Charles Thomas was also playing his final game at the Kohl Center. He played five minutes and grabbed a pair of rebounds.
— Former Badgers Jason Bohannon (2006-2010) and Zach Bohannon (2012-14) were at the game sitting behind the Iowa bench. Their little brother, Jordan, plays for Iowa. He had just eight points on the night. Though the older brothers cheered for Jordan, they were not wearing the colors of either team at the game.
— Wisconsin is fourth in the Big Ten standings, a game ahead of Maryland for the final double bye at the Big Ten tournament. A win on Sunday at Ohio State will clinch it.
Wisconsin (21-9, 13-6) travels to Columbus to take on Ohio State (18-12, 8-11) in the regular season finale on Sunday.