Badgers overcome poor shooting to beat Eastern Illinois

MADISON — Wisconsin got 18 points from Kobe King and a double-double from Nate Reuvers on its way to a 65-52 win over Eastern Illinois Friday night at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Reuvers

The junior big man followed up strong season opener with another really good effort. He had 14 points (12 in the first half) and a career-high 14 rebounds. But it was his defense that had the crowd buzzing. Reuvers blocked nine shots, tying the school record for a second time. He got a little overzealous in trying to break the record and get the triple-double, allowing a few easier buckets late in the game.

“Coach kind of got mad at me at the end because they finally started passing the ball out of it,” Reuvers said. “They kind of realized I was going to block it.”

The good: King

King was quiet in the opener but he exploded Friday night. The 18 points were a career-high and nearly all were the result of his aggressiveness. He got to the line 10 times and hit eight of them. He’s now been to the free throw line 17 times in the first two games — just 12 shy of his total from a year ago.

The not so good: The three-point shooting

Wisconsin went an ugly 3-for-18 beyond the arc and are now 8 of 37 on the season. Perhaps the most concerning aspect was that a number of them were wide-open looks.

The Badgers shot it so well for the first 20 or so games last season, but just haven’t been able to find any consistency since.

“We know how well we can shoot in practice when we’re in the gym by ourselves,” junior Brad Davison said. “Averages average out. We were a little shaky the first two games. That’ll average out over the next few. We have that confidence in ourselves.”

Stat of the Game: 20-for-24

Free throws were such a huge issue the last few years for Wisconsin, largely because it was Ethan Happ shooting a bunch of them. But after an ugly 13-for-26 in the exhibition game, the Badgers have gone 34 of 44 in their first two games.

Video of the Game:

King soared for a nasty one-hand slam.

What they said:

King on his big dunk:

“Coach Gard goes, ‘two points is two points regardless.’ And coach Tucker goes, ’Nah, sometimes a dunk is like five points.’ You get the crowd into it. You’re feeling good. When I saw that little gap I took off. I made eye contact with (Tucker) right after. It was pretty neat. Hopefully we have a few more of those throughout the year.”

In Case You Missed It:

— Wisconsin honored the family of Howard Moore prior to the game. His parents addressed the crowd, and his son, Jerell, was introduced as part of the Badgers starting lineup.

The assistant coach lost his wife and daughter in a car accident in May. He suffered serious burns and later had a heart attack. A former Wisconsin player himself, Moore has a long recovery in front of him.

Gard was asked about the move of introducing Jerrell.

“We’re just trying to help make his life as normal as possible. We can’t replace his mom. We can’t replace his sister. But we can try to do a lot of other things to help the kid out. I can’t imagine, at 13 years old, what that kid has gone through.”

— Junior D’Mitrik Trice took an elbow to the face early in the first half and started bleeding profusely. He was taken back to the locker room for treatment. Trice return late in the first half. He finished with just four points on the night.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (0-1) will host McNeese State on Wednesday at the Kohl Center.