Xavier 80, Wisconsin 70; Last shots

MADISON – The Wisconsin Badgers fell to the University of Xavier 80-70 on the hardwood Thursday night. Wisconsin got tremendous efforts out of Ethan Happ and Brad Davison, but it wasn’t enough to overcome 25 points from Xavier guard Trevon Bluiett.

Here are 16 last shots for the 16 minutes played by Wisconsin guard Brevin Pritzl against Xavier Thursday night:

1. Bluiett knocked down a pair of three-pointers late to seal the game for the Musketeers. That came after Wisconsin had fought back from down as many as seven in the second half.

2. Bluiett was quiet most of the night. He finished with 25 points, but 12 of them came in the final 2:25 of the game. Guard J.P. Macura also had a strong night for Xavier, finishing with 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting. He added in eight rebounds and four assists as well.

3. Xavier was the more experienced team on Thursday night, and that showed down the stretch as they outscored Wisconsin 16-4 over the last 2:55 of the game. Bluiett was huge in that stretch for the Musketeers, as he had 12 of the 16 points. Outside of that stretch, Wisconsin did a relatively good job containing him, but he was too much in the end.

4. Bluiett is a player that has played in many big moments over the course of his four seasons at Xavier. The fact of the matter was that outside of Happ, no one for Wisconsin has that type of experience. That hurt the Badgers, but tonight is a tremendous teaching moment for the young team.

5. Davison kept Wisconsin alive in the first half against Xavier. He played 13 minutes and the Badgers outscored Xavier by 13 points. Entering the game his career-high was eight points. He had 11 in the first half alone.

6. The biggest stretch for Wisconsin in the first half came in the final 4:29 of the half when Happ subbed out after picking up his second foul. Wisconsin was trailing 32-23. The closed out the half on an 11-2 run to tie the game at 34 heading into the break. Davison had six points and a pair of steals in that stretch.

7. Davison did more than just create for Wisconsin offensively. He’s shown early on that he is the type of player that doesn’t mind doing the dirty work that most athletes his age don’t like to do. Against Xavier he was extremely disruptive on the defensive end of the court. In the first half alone he had four steals and a charge drawn while only committing one foul. He makes several plays at that end that typically aren’t made in college basketball, let alone by a freshman.

8. “If you have been around Brad Davison you understand these are the type of games he flourishes in. He likes being physical, he likes getting on the floor. He made a lot of good things happen,” head coach Greg Gard said following the game. “Maybe I should’ve played Brad even more.”

9. However long Davison is at Wisconsin, he is going to be lamented by fans of opposing teams, but he will be absolutely adored by Badger fans. The best comparison to make for him might be former Ohio State guard Aaron Craft. Craft played for the Buckeyes from 2010-2014 and was an incredibly pesky defender and general annoyance to the opposition. Davison is exactly that, but with a better offensive game.

10. Zach Heilprin said all of the above in a simple five-word tweet during the game.

11. The second half was not as productive for Davison, however. He only was able to score a single point.

12. He finished with 28 minutes played on the night, taking many of Pritzl’s minutes. Pritzl wasn’t the only starter to play under 20 minutes, as Andy Van Vliet had a tough night for the Badgers. He finished with one point and one rebound in 11 minutes. Pritzl did have 13 points, but struggled defensively against Xavier’s Macura.

13. Happ had another strong game on the offensive end as he finished with a team-high 21 points to go along with eight assists and four rebounds.

14. This was the first game this season where Happ wasn’t consistently double-teamed. It did happen at times, but it was not done throughout the game by XU’s defense. When the double-teams did come he did an excellent job passing out of them, as he has consistenly this season.

15. In the second half, he did break the 1,000 point mark on a driving layup. Quite an accomplishment for Wisconsin’s leader.

16. Wisconsin travels to Kansas City for the 2017 Hall of Fame Classic on Monday night. They take on No. 25 Baylor. Tip-off is at 8pm.

Badgers top UW-Stout 85-56 in exhibition finale

The University of Wisconsin won their third and final exhibition matchup Sunday evening against in-state foe UW-Stout 85-56. The Badgers swept through the preseason, defeating Missouri in a closed scrimmage, as well as Northern Iowa and UW-Stout at the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin was led by freshmen guards Brad Davison and Kobe King on the night. They scored 13 and 17 points, respectively. The Badgers finished with four players in double-figures as Andy Van Vliet and Khalil Iverson both finished with 11 points.

Here are nine last shots for the nine three-pointers made by Wisconsin Sunday evening.

1. It was difficult to learn much about the Badgers on Sunday in their matchup against UW-Stout. When the talent gap is as large as it is between a division one and a division three program, some things will be difficult to figure out for those watching.

2. One of the things that has been evident for Wisconsin no matter who the opposition is that King and Davison will be key cogs for the Badgers this year despite their inexperience. Davison got the start in place of an injured D’Mitrik Trice who missed the exhibition with an ankle injury. Both the talented freshman were able to handle the point guard responsibilities at different points throughout the night.

3. “For me, playing point was something new, I haven’t really done too much,” King said. “This morning me, Brad [Davison], Khalil [Iverson], sat down with coach Gard, ran through some things. Overall it was pretty fun, but I’m excited to have [Trice] back.”

4. Understandably the two can’t wait for the games to count for real, as they start to on Friday night when the Badgers host South Carolina State.

5. “We’ve put in a lot of work since we’ve been here over the summer. Especially with the foreign tour we had extra practices. I think it’s something that we’re very well prepared for and I know we’re all looking forward to it,” King said.

6. Defensively Wisconsin wasn’t as impressive early on as there were against Northern Iowa in their previous exhibition. They seemed to be giving UW-Stout a few more open looks than the Panthers were able to find on Wednesday night.

7. The most surprising number from Sunday evening might have been zero, as in the number of official shot attempts for forward Ethan Happ. He finished the night with two points, both coming from the free throw stripe. It was clear that UW-Stout’s plan was to double Happ immediately once the ball was given to him in the post. He did add in four rebounds and three assists in his 22 minutes on the floor.

8. Happ looked comfortable passing out of the post when he was forced to, however it was extremely odd to see the team’s best player not attempt a shot. The production from Davison and King certainly helped to offset the lack of offense from Happ.

9. Obviously, things can change quickly, and not too much stock should be taken in an exhibition, but it must be comforting for the team to see that King has been able to consistently create offense for himself. He can provide an instant spark and find many ways to put points on the board. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him average double-figures in scoring during the season.

Red/White scrimmage recap

MADISON | Sunday afternoon the world caught a glimpse of the 2017-2018 Wisconsin Men’s Basketball team in the annual Red/White scrimmage. The team looks much different than Badger fans are used to. Typically, Wisconsin is filled with experience, however that’s not the case this year with only Ethan Happ returning from last year’s starting five.

At the scrimmage, the most impressive player was freshman Kobe King. King, a La Crosse, Wi native, lead both squads in scoring with 16 points in 34 minutes. He was able to showcase his scoring ability multiple ways. King got to the rim, created space in the mid-range, and knocked down shots from behind the arc. For a freshman, he showed an offensive game matured beyond his years.

While King was the leading scorer, another freshman, Brad Davison, reached double figures in the scoring column as well. He had 10 points in a team-high 35 minutes. Davison also had five rebounds and two assists.

The way things look, it should surprise anyone if King and Davison open the year as important members of the rotation, if not starters. The tandem will certainly experience growing pains, as was evident in the four combined turnovers, but they’ll be a pair Wisconsin fans will find highly entertaining as well.

INSTANT OFFENSE: Sophomore Brevin Pritzl was hot from distance early, nailing his first three attempts from behind the arc. He finished the day with 11 points. Pritzl has an incredibly pure stroke that can ignite the Badgers’ offense without warning. Whether his role will come as part of the starting five or off the bench is yet to be determined.

DOWN LOW: Another impressive aspect of the scrimmage on Sunday afternoon was how well a few of the Badgers’ big men played. While Happ didn’t have the best of days, going scoreless in 25 minutes, forwards Charles Thomas and Andy Van Vliet both had strong performances. Thomas has 14 points on six-of-nine from the floor and Van Vliet has nine points to go along with nine rebounds on the night.

UP NEXT: Wisconsin hosts UW-Stout in an exhibition on November 5 at the Kohl Center. Tip-off is at 4PM