Marquette 82, Wisconsin 63: Last word

MADISON — Marquette got 47 points combined from guards Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey on its way to a dominating 82-63 victory over a shorthanded Wisconsin team on Saturday at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Rowsey

Saddled with foul trouble in the first half, the senior had 18 of his 24 points after the break. When the Badgers had trimmed the lead to 6 with 15:54 left, Rowsey went on a personal 8-2 run to push it back to double digits. Wisconsin had zero answer for Rowsey.

The good: Brad Davison

The freshman seems to play his best when the rest of the team is struggling and that was again the case on Saturday. Playing with a brace protecting an injured left shoulder, Davison scored a career-high 20 points, 11 of which came from the free throw line, and continued to throw his body around like he has all year. He played a team-high 38 minutes and was a driving force in keeping Wisconsin within striking distance until the final 10 minutes.

The not so good: Injuries

The injuries didn’t happen during the game, but they were certainly evident during it. Wisconsin learned late Friday morning that starting guard D’Mitrik Trice would be out indefinitely to undergo foot surgery, and then found out late Friday night that guard Kobe King will miss significant time with a knee injury. It left the Badgers without two key perimeter defenders on Saturday and leaves them extremely thin in the backcourt moving forward.

Stat of the game: 14 of 22

That was Marquette’s day from beyond the arc. It included Sam Hauser hitting 4 of 5 and Rowsey going 5 of 6. More than a couple of those were uncontested as the Badgers defense really struggled to close out on shooters.

What they said:

Ethan Happ was asked how the team can turn the season around:

“Stay together. That’s the biggest thing. We’ve had struggles my first two years playing here. That’s what we did. We just stayed together and kept fighting. Didn’t hang up the shoes. We’re going to keep doing that and keep playing.”

In Case You Missed It:

— T.J. Schlundt played a career-high 13 minutes, hitting the only 3-pointer he took. His father, Terrell, played for Marquette.

— Wisconsin honored six football players during a break in play, including running back Jonathan Taylor and linebacker T.J. Edwards.

— Most of the 2018 recruiting class for the Wisconsin football team was in attendance at the game as many took their official visit to Madison this weekend.

— Wisconsin’s top basketball target in 2020, forward Jalen Johnson (Sun Prairie, Wis.), attended the game.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (4-7) welcomes Western Kentucky (6-2) to the Kohl Center on Wednesday.

(23) UCLA 72, Wisconsin 70: Last word

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Aaron Holiday hit a layup with .8 seconds left to give No. 23 UCLA a 72-70 win over Wisconsin Tuesday night in the consolation game of the Hall of Fame Classic.

Player of the Game: Holiday

It wasn’t an overwhelming effort for 40 minutes from the UCLA guard, but he took over down the stretch, scoring the Bruins final 10 points. That included a 3-pointer to give them a 70-67 lead and then the game-winner where he managed to just barely evade the reach of Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ at the rim.

“I said it since I saw him in high school. He’s my pitbull,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “You just turn him loose. And when you turn him loose, I’ve got all the confidence in the world…he’s pretty good at making those shots and those plays.”

The good: The energy

Wisconsin was lethargic to start the game against Baylor on Monday, and it clearly bothered coach Greg Gard. So much so that he suggested potential changes to the lineup could be coming and that’s exactly what happened. He moved freshman Brad Davison and redshirt freshman Aleem Ford into the starting lineup for sophomore Brevin Pritzl and junior Andy Van Vliet, respectively. And Gard got exactly what he was looking for, especially in terms of the kind of intensity his team showed from the opening tip.

“I thought we were pretty active defensively,” Gard said of the change. “I saw a lot of red jerseys diving on the floor. We were the first to the ball. We had faces on the ball as we like to call it.”

Davison scored 14 points and had two rebounds, while also taking four charges. He was one of four Badgers to play at least 33 minutes as Gard, like he said he would on Monday, played the guys that proved they were ready for the moment.

“We’ll continue to evaluate that,” Gard said of the lineup change. “It’s not set in stone. I don’t think I need to set it in stone. They understand you have to earn it to keep it.”

The not so good: Late game issues

In their first two losses of the season — to Xavier and Baylor — the Badgers were right there at the end of the game but couldn’t finish, playing some of their worst basketball in the final minutes. That was once again the case against UCLA. Wisconsin led by six with 3:29 to play, but the Badgers turned the ball over three times in the final eight possessions and scored just five points.

“We’re right there. I’m proud of our guys, how we’ve grown. We’ve been tested a lot of over the last three games,” said Gard of facing three straight ranked opponents. “Eventually, I think [we’ll have] a pretty good team, but it’s just a matter of [needing] to get over that hump and mature in areas to finish halves, finish possessions and finish out games in the way that you need to.”

Stat of the game: 23%

That’s Wisconsin’s 3-point percentage for the game, the third time in five games this year that the Badgers have shot worse than 31-percent from beyond the arc. And it came on a night when UCLA was red hot from deep, hitting 9 of 17 for the game, and going 7 for 9 in the second half alone.

It’s going to be tough for Wisconsin to win games when those two shooting percentages are so far apart.

What they said: The final play

Holdiay’s last-second layup was obviously the main topic after the game, including how Wisconsin played it.

Here’s a look at it from my seat inside the Sprint Center:

Here’s how Happ described it:

“Didn’t play it very well, I guess. Once Brad (Davison) poked it away, it kind of turned into a sporadic play for me. And I wasn’t sure if he was going to stay or not and then once I was matched with (Holiday) I wasn’t sitting down [in my stance] like I should have been.”

Here’s what Davison saw:

“I was supposed to go trap [Holiday]. I knocked it away and he got it. I was like oh, OK, then I had to get back [to my guy]. That was the goal. I was supposed to create some havoc. I think [poking it loose] kind of threw some things off, but [Holiday] is a great player and made a really good play. Have to give him credit.”

Davison on whether this kind of loss will help them down the road
Gard on if they can see the benefit of games like this

In Case You Missed It:

— Wisconsin had two freshmen — Davison and Ford — in its starting lineup for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

— Guard Kobe King came off the bench and had his most productive day of the season, scoring nine points in 17 minutes of action.

— Other than starting 0-1 in the 2015-16 season, this is the first time Wisconsin has been under .500 overall since Dec. 21, 2001. That was former coach Bo Ryan’s first year.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (2-3) will take on UW-Milwaukee (3-1) on Friday at the Kohl Center.

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.

Wisconsin falls to Melbourne United on late 3-pointer

MELBOURNE, Australia — The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team faced its first test of adversity on the international trip, falling 90-89 to Melbourne United Saturday night on a late 3-point shot.

The Badgers were 3-0 on their foreign exhibition tour, seemingly on their way to a fourth win after grabbing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. But Melbourne’s Jerry Evans sank a 3-pointer from the corner with 2.4 seconds left to leave Wisconsin in shock.

“We were in situations throughout the game that we haven’t been in,” Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard told UWBadgers.com. “End of game and quarter situations, foul trouble we had to deal with. We did a lot of learning, which is exactly why you come on trips like this, to put yourself in some adverse situations and see how guys react on the fly.”

Wisconsin rallied from a 14-point second quarter deficit by scoring on 11 of its first 12 possessions to start the second half. That included scoring 32 points on 17 possessions in the third quarter.

It’s been a youth movement for the Badgers, who were led in the loss by 19 points from D’Mitrik Trice, 18 points from Kobe King, followed by Ethan Happ with 14.

“You have to learn from wins and losses,” Happ said after the loss. “The biggest thing is, we need to slow down when they’re making their run. We need to slow down on both ends where we need to hone in and get a stop or we need to hone in and get a bucket at the rim. We need to play inside-out down the stretch and make more plays.”

The Badgers failed to make it a two-possession game down the stretch. Their final two possessions included a shot clock violation and a partially blocked shot from Brevin Pritzl, for what would have been the winning basket.

The five-game tour concludes Tuesday against the Sydney Kings at 2:30 a.m. CT.

Wisconsin moves to 2-0 on foreign trip

The Wisconsin basketball team improved to 2-0 on its foreign trip early Thursday morning with an 87-53 whipping of the Sky City Breakers.

For a second straight game, the revamped Badgers were hot from the outside, hitting 15 of 27 from beyond the arc. They were led by junior Andy Van Vliet, who finished with a team-high 14 points, while sophomore D’Mitrik Trice added 12 and freshmen Kobe King and Nathan Reuvers each put in nine.

Coach Greg Gard overhauled nearly his entire starting lineup for the second game of the five-game tour, going with freshman Brad Davison and sophomore Brevin Pritzl at guard, while redshirt freshman Aleem Ford joined Van Vliet and Charlie Thomas in the front court.

Wisconsin will now head to Australia for the final three games of the trip.

Gard: ‘I don’t know when (or) if’ Bronson Koenig will return

Wisconsin’s offense could certainly use a boost from a healthy Bronson Koenig, but it’s unclear whether the Badgers will get that when they host Maryland on Sunday.

The senior guard was held out of Thursday’s 64-58 loss at Michigan due to a calf injury suffered against Penn State on Jan. 24.

“I don’t know,” coach Greg Gard said when asked if Koenig would be available for the game against the Terrapins. “It’ll be day-to-day. It has been — and will be — in the medical staff’s hands. They’ll tell me what his status is each day.

“I don’t know when (or) if (he’ll return). I don’t know any more than I did before the game that he wasn’t going to play (Thursday night).”

In the five games after the injury, Koenig hit just 7 of 31 shots from 3-point range and was shooting under 30 percent overall — both figures a steep decline from his career numbers. And it just so happens the injury coincides with the Badgers dip in production on the offensive end.

After shooting under 40 percent in two of their first 20 games of the season with a healthy Koenig in the lineup, the Badgers have been under that figure in four straight games — the longest such streak for the program since the start of the 2003-2004 season. And after averaging more than 76 points per game to start the season, that number is down to 60.8 over the last six.

Koenig’s replacement on Thursday, true freshman D’Mitrik Trice, was up and down, handing out four assists with just two turnovers, but also shooting a dismal 2 of 15 from the field.

“He got himself in some positions where he had to take tough shots,” Gard said. “I’ll break it down shot-by-shot of what was good and what was not. I thought he got himself in trouble at times, too. But he also found himself open a few times, too, and you got to knock down shots when you have the opportunity.”

D’Mitrik Trice to get his first career start in place of an injured Bronson Koenig

Wisconsin will be without their starting point guard when they take on Michigan Thursday night.

The team announced that senior point guard Bronson Koenig will miss the game as he deals with a calf strain that has hampered him since first injuring it against Penn State on Jan. 24.

“The medical staff made a decision (on Wednesday),” coach Greg Gard told UWBadgers.com “We knew it was unlikely he was going to play and then (we) made a final determination (Thursday) morning.”

In Koenig’s place will be true freshman D’Mitrik Trice, who is averaging 5.5 points and 1.6 assists per game.

“He’s ready for this moment,” Gard said. “I’ve said all along he’s wiser and older than his freshman year says in the program. It’s a great opportunity for him.”

Trice said Tuesday he was preparing like he was going to start, and he spent the entire week as the No. 1 point guard with Koenig sitting out.

“(I) just have to go out and do what I need to do to help my team win,” Trice said of his role. “Whether that’s pass the ball, come off screens and find open guys or knock down the 15-footer, hit an open 3 here and there and just direct the offense.”

Koenig had seen his performance drop off significantly since the injury, making just 7 of 31 shots from beyond the arc and shooting under 30 percent from the field overall.

“We know it’s huge loss,” senior Nigel Hayes said this week. “As I’ve always answered when another team loses a key player, other players will step up. That’s just what happens.

“We know what Bronson does. Bronson takes his shots. All that means is there are more shots for someone else, another opportunity for someone to step up.

“Trice has been playing well. Brevin (Pritzl) has been doing well. Gives more opportunities for Jordan (Hill) and those guys to step up and try and make something happen.”

Entering the day, No. 11 Wisconsin (21-4, 10-2) owns a 1/2 game lead in the Big Ten on Purdue and Maryland.

Koenig misses Tuesday practice with leg injury, expected to play vs Michigan

MADISON, Wis. — Following Sunday’s 66-59 loss to Northwestern, Wisconsin basketball coach Greg Gard noted that the left calf injury to senior guard Bronson Koenig was affecting his performance. That’s why he was given the night off from Tuesday’s practice.

This season, Koenig is averaging career highs in field goal percentage (.418) and points (13.4), not including his freshman year. But after suffering the leg injury Jan. 24 against Penn State, Koenig is just 14-of-55 (.254) from the field and averaging 8.8 points per game.

University of Wisconsin officials say the injury won’t keep him from playing in Thursday night’s contest at Michigan, however. But freshman guard D’Mitrik Trice is ready to step up if necessary.

“I’m preparing for that, definitely,” Trice said following Tuesday’s practice. “You never know with Bronson [Koenig] and whatever’s going on with him. I know I’m praying for him and things like that, but I’m definitely preparing with that mindset.”

Trice has been a source of confidence for coach Greg Gard this season, averaging 17.1 minutes per game, hitting 42.6 percent of his field goal attempts.

Koenig has not been available to speak with reporters this week to discuss the injury.

The Last Word: Badgers turn halftime deficit into second-half rout

MADISON — No. 17 Wisconsin (7-2) shot 63 percent in the second half to pull away from Oklahoma (5-2) 90-70 on Saturday at the Kohl Center.

Player of the game: Nigel Hayes

Following a near triple-double the last time out, Hayes was as good if not better against Oklahoma. The preseason Big Ten player of the year scored a season-high 28 points as the Badgers won their third straight game. Hayes was as adept around the basket as he was from mid-range and beyond the arc. The senior went 8 of 13 overall and 10 of 13 from the free throw line, while also adding six assists and not turning the ball over.

The good: D’Mitrik Trice

The freshman continues to show what a steal he was for Wisconsin. Trice hit all four of his 3-pointers, finishing with a career-high 16 points, while also playing solid defense, including drawing a charge in the first half. It’s clear that coach Greg Gard has already developed a ton of confidence in Trice, who didn’t turn the ball over for a second straight game.

The not so good: Slow start

Wisconsin has been a bit of slow starter this season, and that happened again on Saturday. Oklahoma jumped out to a 6-0 lead, and led by as many as eight late in the first half.

Stats of the game: 1.606

That was Wisconsin’s points per possession in the second half as they turned a 3-point halftime deficit into a 20-point win. Coaches normally like anything over 1.0 on offense and anything lower than that on defense.

Quote of the game:

“In the most humble sense, I don’t feel like I can be guarded. Period. No matter where I’m at. It’s just a matter of me taking what’s there.”

| Nigel Hayes

Audio of the game:

Nigel Hayes on playing with a killer instinct and the role his mother played in his performance

 

Video of the game:

https://twitter.com/BadgerMBB/status/805133853551693825

Odds and ends:

— After not shooting a 3-pointer in back-to-back games for the first time since his freshman year, Nigel Hayes took — and made — his first shot from beyond on the arc on Saturday. He finished 2 of 2 from distance.

— The fire alarm inside the Kohl Center went off during the first half. Play continued and only a few fans actually left their seats. Officials announced later that there wasn’t a fire and that the system malfunctioned.

— In the first half, several players got tangled up after the whistle and it produced this fantastic reaction from Nigel Hayes.

 

What’s next?

Wisconsin will host Idaho State on Wednesday.

Wisconsin overcomes slow start to rout Chicago State 69-51

MADISON | Following an ugly start that saw them down 8-0 for a second straight game, the Wisconsin basketball team found its footing, taking care of Chicago State 69-51 on Thursday night.

The No. 9 Badgers (2-1) turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the game, allowing the Cougars (1-1) to jump out to the same lead Creighton held on Tuesday night. But this time Wisconsin had the answer, going on a 23-3 run that saw Chicago State go without a bucket for more than 9 minutes, and the Badgers led the rest of the way.

The difference on the night was the points off the bench. Wisconsin outscored Chicago State 36-4, led by Khalil Iverson’s career-high 11 points. The sophomore also added five rebounds, two assists and two blocks, including swatting a 3-point attempt into the crowd.

Senior Vitto Brown led Wisconsin in scoring with 12 points, one of three Badgers in double digits.

Wisconsin didn’t shoot overwhelmingly better than they did on Tuesday against Creighton, but they were determined not to settle for shots from the outside. They took just 19 3-pointers — 20 fewer than in the loss to the Bluejays — hitting five of them, including a pair from Brown.

Freshman D’Mitrik Trice continued his strong start to the season, dishing out seven assists in 23 minutes of action.

The win came despite a rough shooting performance from senior Nigel Hayes. The forward missed his first five shots, and finished with just three points on 1 of 8 shooting, while also hitting just one of his four free throws.

Wisconsin now heads to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational, where they’ll take on Tennessee Monday afternoon.

Wisconsin Chicago State box