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 “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:

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