Last shots: Wisconsin 75, Illinois 50

MADISON – The Wisconsin Badgers snapped their losing streak at three games on Friday night with a 75-50 victory over Illinois at the Kohl Center.

Thirteen last shots for Khalil Iverson’s 13 points against the Fighting Illini on Friday night.

1. The game started off extremely sloppy for everyone involved. The first possession for each team resulted in a turnover, the first made field goal of the game wasn’t until Illinois’ Leron Black knocked down a jumper at the 17:27 mark. The first half also saw multiple needs to adjust the clock and even an incidental buzzer causing a pause in play.

2. After the slow, sloppy start, the Badgers were able to put their foot on the gas pedal offensively mostly thanks to guard Brevin Pritzl. He finished the game with 16 points in 37 minutes on the court. Pritzl scored 13 of his points in the first half. He was in a great rhythm early on, knocking down both 3-pointers he attempted in the first half. He finished the first half 5-of-8 shooting while playing all 20 minutes.

3. In the second half Pritzl wasn’t in the same rhythm. He was just 1-of-7 from the floor, with the lone make a banked in 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock with 14:14 left in regulation to put Wisconsin up 56-38. That was their largest lead of the night at that point.

4. Despite Pritzl and forward Ethan Happ both scoring 16 points, neither one actually led Wisconsin in the scoring column. Guard Brad Davison had a relatively quiet 18 points on the night. The quietness of his scoring can be attributed to the fact that he finished the night with only six field goal attempts. He did the majority of his scoring from the free throw line, where he knocked down all 10 of his attempts.

5. The 18 points for Davison was a Big Ten season-high. He’s the Big Ten freshman leader in scoring currently, averaging 12.1 points per game. Davison also became the first player for Wisconsin to be perfect from the free throw line with at least 10 attempts since Nigel Hayes did so in 2016, per UW.

6. Speaking of Happ, he finished the night with his eighth double-double of the season. He had 10 rebounds and five assists in addition to his 16 points. This is the fifth double-double in the last seven games for Happ.

7. Happ once again did a terrific job passing out of double-team situations, as he has all season long. That’s one of the more dangerous parts of his game offensively, especially considering his outside game isn’t operational at a very high level at the moment.

8. The fourth and final player to reach double-figures in scoring was forward Khalil Iverson. He finished the night with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Iverson has been inconsistent on that end of the floor throughout the season. He’s had nights where the Badgers have relied on his scoring to get by and he’s had nights where he hasn’t attempted a single shot. Wisconsin doesn’t know what they’re going to get out of him on a regular basis offensively.

9. Iverson is a solid defender and definitely more consistent on that end of the floor. He’s only had five games this season where he has failed to record either a block of a steal. The Badgers are 2-3 in those games, including losses by 25 and 28 points to Ohio State and Purdue, respectively. The two victories came against South Carolina State and UW-Milwaukee with the third loss being against Baylor. Iverson matched a career high with three blocks against Illinois. He also had a pair of steals.

10. While Iverson blocked three shots, he was outshined in that area by freshman forward Nate Reuvers who finished with five blocks on the night. Reuvers leads Wisconsin with 21 blocks on the season despite sitting out the first five games of the season due to an uncertainty over redshirting.

11. As a team Wisconsin tallied 10 blocks. That mark is their highest in a single game since they denied the Indiana Hoosiers 10 times on March 16, 2013.

12. The Badgers have now knocked off Illinois in 12 straight matchups. The last win for Illinois over Wisconsin came on January 2, 2011 when the then 23rd ranked Fighting Illini defeated the Badgers 69-61 at Assembly Hall.

13. Wisconsin will be back in action Tuesday night on the road against Iowa. Tip-off is set for 6PM CST.

Wisconsin falls at Rutgers 64-60

Wisconsin’s rollercoaster of a season continued Friday night as the Badgers fell at Rutgers 64-60.

The Badgers went on a late 7-0 run to tie the game at 53 with 2:07 left, before guard Corey Sanders drilled a jump shot for Rutgers followed by a 3-pointer to push the lead back to five. Wisconsin would get no closer than four the rest of the way.

It was sloppy game offensively for coach Greg Gard’s team. They had 14 turnovers — one off their season high — and their two best offensive weapons — junior Ethan Happ and freshman Brad Davison — combined for 12 of them.

Happ earned his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, but was just 4 of 10 from the field, the first time he’s shot under 53-percent since a win over Penn State back on Dec. 4. The performance came just days after he scored a season-high 28 points against Indiana.

Davison and sophomore Brevin Pritzl led Wisconsin with 13 points each, while Sanders paced Rutgers with 23 points on 10 of 19 shooting.

The loss dropped the Badgers to 9-8 overall and 2-2 in Big Ten play. They’ll travel to Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers next Tuesday.

Wisconsin 71, Indiana 61: Last word

MADISON — Ethan Happ scored a season-high 28 points as Wisconsin topped Indiana 71-61 Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Happ

You could tell almost from the tip that Happ was going to have a big night. He had an hand in the first 10 points for Wisconsin — scoring seven himself and dishing out an assist for the other basket. The Hoosiers, like most of Happ’s career, had no answer for the big man, as he scored at least 19 points for the fourth time in six games against Indiana.

But it wasn’t just his scoring. He had nine rebounds, six on the offensive end, while finishing with four assists, two blocks and season-high four steals.

It was a dominant all around effort from one of the best two-way players the Badgers have ever had.

The good: Fight

These Badgers won’t be pushed around, at least not by an Indiana team that was essentially called soft by Hoosiers coach Archie Miller afterwards. Feeding off the energy provided by Happ, guard Brad Davison and reserve Aaron Moesch, Wisconsin dominated the boards, out rebounding the Hoosiers 30-22, including a 13-7 advantage on the offensive end. It seemed like nearly every loose ball ended up in the Badgers hands, and that wouldn’t have been possible without the effort they showed pretty much all night.

The not so good: Injuries

It didn’t happen in the game, but Wisconsin was once again hit by an injury to a guard, this time sophomore Brevin Pritzl. Coach Greg Gard said he injured his head during the team’s shoot around earlier on Tuesday and it’s unclear how long he’ll be out. Pritzl is going through the concussion protocol and won’t return until he clears that.

Stat of the game: 14

That’s how many points Davison had in the game, all of which came after halftime. The freshman was 4-of-8 from the field, including drilling a pair of 3-pointers to help the Badgers build their lead.

What they said:

“I think it’s something here at Wisconsin where it’s always next man up. That’s been how we transition putting new guys in different roles. Not just guys getting hurt, but also guys having to switch positions due to those injuries. I think we’ve done a great job doing that.”

— Ethan Happ on playing without D’Mitrik Trice, Kobe King and now Pritzl.

In Case You Missed It:

— Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was in the crowd with friend and big Wisconsin fan Andy North.

— Wisconsin has now won 16 straight games against Indiana at the Kohl Center.

— Due to the injury to Pritzl, freshman Nate Reuvers made the first start of his career.

— Senior Aaron Moesch played a career-high 25 minutes.

— Juniors Andy Van Vliet and Alex Illikainen did not play in the game.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (9-7, 2-1) takes on Rutgers (10-5, 0-2) in New Jersey on Friday night. It’s the first game of a stretch where the Badgers play five of six away from Madison.

Badgers top South Carolina State 85-50; Last shots

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin Men’s Basketball team opened up the 2017-18 regular season with a 85-50 win over visiting South Carolina State University Friday night at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin was led by Ethan Happ with 20 points and 11 rebounds on the evening. South Carolina State’s Donte Wright finished with a team-high 13 points for the Bulldogs.

This was the first meaningful game for a group of relatively new Badgers. There were definitely nerves early, but the experience of Happ showed throughout the night leading Wisconsin to the win.

Here are 13 last shots for guard D’Mitrik Trice’s 13 points:

1. Happ showed more against South Carolina State than he did in the entire preseason slate. At times in the exhibition matchups it looked as if he was taking a step back, hoping to help his teammates grow. Friday night he was able to enforce his will at the offensive end early and often, scoring 12 points in the first half. He finished with a double-double, totaling 20 points and 11 rebounds.

2. The one thing Happ did struggle with on the night was shooting from the charity stripe. He shot four-of-nine from the foul line. As a team, Wisconsin finished 11-18 on free throws, but a respectable seven-of-nine removing Happ from the equation. That’s a number the Badgers can live with against South Carolina State, but it’s something that could come back and haunt them against a more talented team.

3. While Happ led the team with 20 points, he was one of four Badgers that reached double-figures. Andy Van Vliet had a terrific game in his first game as a starter, finishing with 18 points. Guards Brevin Pritzl and Trice finished with 17 and 13 points, respectively. Both of them were three-of-six from three-point land.

4. Van Vliet was a key factor in stretching South Carolina State’s defense. The Bulldogs primarily played a zone defense, which is something Wisconsin had not seen in the previous two exhibitions against Northern Iowa and UW-Stout. Van Vliet was able to expose openings in it as a three-point shooter, going four-of-five from beyond the arc. He also hit back-to-back threes as part of a 10-0 run that stretched Wisconsin’s lead to 22 with 7:23 remaining, essentially putting the game out of reach.

5. “It feels good to have a game like that,” Van Vliet told the media after the game. “Obviously, there is still stuff to work about, coach has been on me too for defensive reasons and I know I have to work on that and be more aggressive. I feel good about tonight and finally being on the floor.”

6. Pritzl, like Happ and Van Vliet, reached double-figures in scoring in the first half. His smooth shooting stroke is something that should be much more prevalent this season than it was last year for Wisconsin. He knocked down six of the 10 shots he took and was two-of-two from the free throw stripe.

7. “Ethan has got on me about taking shots,” Pritzl said after the game. “I’m a good shooter so I’ve kind of listened to him a little more. I’ve got to be a little more aggressive.”

8. If Pritzl can continue to shoot as well from behind the arc as he did Friday, the Badgers will want him to be even more aggressive with his shot selection.

9. Freshmen Kobe King and Brad Davison both made their collegiate debuts against South Carolina State and they looked like freshmen. That’s not a slight to either of them, as they both played solid games, however it was evident there was nervousness for both during the game. King finished with six points on three-of-six shooting to go along with three rebounds and an assist. Davison had five points on one-of-three from the floor. He added in two assists and a pair of steals as well.

10. There will be nights throughout the season where one of, if not both, the freshmen will explode and reach double-figures in scoring for Wisconsin. There will also be nights like Friday for them. Developing talent takes time, but it’s something that will be worth it in the end with both the young guards.

11. Davison is going to be a player that Wisconsin fans love as long as he is on campus. He’s also going to be a pain in the neck for fans of the other 13 Big Ten schools. He’s a very scrappy defender that will pester opponents. Davison isn’t afraid to take a charge or dive for a loose ball. There will be a time in his career at Wisconsin when the reason the Badgers win a game is thanks to his hustle.

12. “I will say this, thank god we don’t have to beat Wisconsin to win our conference,” South Carolina State head coach Murray Garvin said after the game. The Bulldogs were overmatched Friday night by the Badgers, but they certainly did not lie down for them. Garvin was proud of the way his team fought Friday night and he had every reason to feel that way. In the end, Wisconsin’s talent won out.

13. Wisconsin is in action next Sunday afternoon from the Kohl Center against Yale. Tip-off is at 4pm.

Brevin Pritzl scores 27 in win over New Zealand Breakers

AUCKLAND — The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team started the five-game international series with an 85-75 exhibition win over the New Zealand Breakers.

Sophomore guard Brevin Pritzl led the Badgers with 27 points on the way to victory, supported by 17 points from junior center Ethan Happ. Freshman guard Brad Davison added 13. Wisconsin and New Zealand were tied 57-57 heading into the final quarter, where UW pulled away, outscoring the Breakers 28-18.

Wisconsin will have a day off before facing Tauranga City Basketball Thursday at 1:30 a.m. CT. The Badgers will play their final three games in Australia against Hawthorn Magic, Melbourne United, and Sydney Kings.

Pritzl regains year of eligibility after injury

University of Wisconsin press release:

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin men’s basketball student-athlete Brevin Pritzl has been granted a medical hardship for the 2015-16 season by the Big Ten Conference. The redshirt freshman will have four years of eligibility remaining in his collegiate playing career, beginning in 2016-17.

A native of De Pere, Wisconsin, Pritzl suffered a broken foot in August of 2015 and reinjured it on Dec. 1. He appeared in just one game for the Badgers during his freshman season.

The all-time leading scorer in De Pere High School, Pritzl scored 1,720 points in his prep career and helped lead the Redbirds to 84 wins and four conference championships.

Greg Gard likes the progress of his team so far this summer

MADISON | Minutes will be at an absolute premium this fall for the Wisconsin basketball team. With the Badgers returning their top 10 players from a year ago — along with adding potential contributors in sophomore forward Andy Van Vliet and redshirt freshman guard Brevin Pritzl to the mix — the competition to get on the floor could be at an all-time high. And second-year head coach Greg Gard is just fine with that.

“It’s going to be very competitive as we get back into school in September and we start practices late September and early October,” Gard said Tuesday during a teleconference promoting the Maui Invitational. “And that’s exactly what we want. Competition is very good and there will be a lot of guys fighting for minutes.”

To this point, the team has had seven practices this summer. And with such a veteran team, Gard said he has mixed things up to keep it fresh.

“We’ve done a lot of different things,” he said. “We’ve drilled a lot. We’ve played a little. We’ve done a lot of skill work. And I’ve really mixed groups around. Whether it’s been one-on-one competition or groups of five. I’ve really thrown them curveballs every single day that we’ve been in the gym. They’ve handled it well.”

Among those going through the paces is Pritzl. The top-rated recruit in Wisconsin’s class of 2015, the sharp-shooting guard broke his foot last August and underwent surgery that kept him out of action until November. He played four minutes in a blowout win over Sienna, before re-injuring the foot prior to Wisconsin’s game against Syracuse in early December. He wouldn’t suit up again, and didn’t get cleared for full-contact work until last month.

“Rusty,” Gard said when asked on Monday what he’s seen from Pritzl this summer. “I think there is no doubt it’s evident he hasn’t played in a year. He can still make shots. Obviously that part of his game has come back pretty quickly, but it’s missing all the defensive work, all the timing, all the things that go into – the other things that don’t involve shooting – that make you a complete player. And that’s something he’s working back [to].

“Conditioning is still something he’s trying to get back, but in terms of the overall injury itself, I think he’s feeling pretty good and pretty confident. It’s just a matter of trying to make up for lost time in all those other areas.”

Many observers of the program considered Pritzl to be the best shooter on last year’s team, an element the group was missing for large stretches of the season. And now, despite having so many experienced players back, there appears to be a role for a guy that averaged 25.5 points per game as a senior in high school.

“I’ve tried to emphasize with him to be patient,” Gard said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take some time and to not rush and get frustrated with yourself when things don’t go as well, or you don’t quite have the timing or the speed of the game down yet. That’ll come in time.

The main thing for him is to work his way back at the pace that the doctors and trainers want him to, and so far, he’s done that pretty well. It’s just obviously been frustrating for him because he expects to play at a high level immediately, and that’s not going to happen when you’ve missed that much time.”