Badgers International trip ends with a win

The Wisconsin Badgers basketball team  ended their five game trip Down Under yesterday with a 83-71 win against the Sydney Kings.

The Badgers were led by in-coming freshman Brad Davidson, who scored 23 points went 2-4 from behind the arc, and was a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. Preseason All-American Ethan Happ added 15 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals.

The Badgers trailed 55-50 in the third quarter before Davidson would help start two separate Wisconsin runs. He scored eight straight points for the Badgers by connecting on two straight three pointers and a layup.

He also was able to get his teammates involved throughout the second half. The Badgers grabbed a 59-57 lead late in the third quarter and never looked back.

The Badgers shot the ball 8-20 from three, good enough for 40% shooting from behind the arc. The team also shot well from the free throw line going 15-18. Wisconsin had an edge on the glass, out-rebounding the Kings 36-24, including 10 more offensive rebounds.

The Badgers concluded their trip Down Under going 4-1 and finding a lot out about their team. The Badgers started all five games with a different lineup, and had a different leading scorer every game. Ethan Happ never led the Badgers in scoring, which speaks volumes about the depth of the team.

The three Badgers freshman also proved that they can play at a high level. Brad Davidson, Nate Reuvers, and Kobe King all played well during the five exhibition games. Not only does Wisconsin have talented in-coming freshman, but they also have an abundance of depth.

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 “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’s Ethan Happ earns AP All-American honors

MADISON — For just the sixth time in school history, the Wisconsin basketball team has produced an Associated Press All-American.

Sophomore forward Ethan Happ was named a third-team All-American by the AP after helping the Badgers to a fourth straight Sweet Sixteen.

“It is definitely an honor to receive such a prestigious award,” Happ said in a release by the school. “No individual award comes without the help of others though. I want to thank my teammates, coaches and all the support I’ve gotten that has helped me get to this point.”

Happ finish second on the team in scoring at 14.0 points per game, while leading Wisconsin in rebounds (9.0), assists (2.8), blocks (1.2) and steals (1.8) on his way to earning first-team All-Big Ten honors and a second straight year of being named to the conference’s all-defensive team.

The Illinois native joins Frank Kaminsky (2015), Jordan Taylor (2011), Alando Tucker (2007), Devin Harris (2004) and Don Rehfeldt (1950) as Wisconsin players that have earned some form of recognition from the Associated Press since they first started naming All-American teams in 1948.

Happ, Koenig, Hayes and Showalter earn All-Big Ten recognition

MADISON — Wisconsin’s season didn’t end with a Big Ten regular season title, but several players still earned recognition for their work during the conference season when the All-Big Ten teams were announced Monday.

Forward Ethan Happ was a first-team pick by the coaches and media, becoming just the second Wisconsin sophomore to earn the honor, joining Michael Finley. Happ led the Badgers in rebounds, assists, blocks and steals per game, while finishing second in points. His selection also makes it four straight years where the Badgers have at least one All-Big Ten first-team player.

Senior Bronson Koenig was named to the second-team by the coaches after leading Wisconsin at 14.2 points per game during the season, including 17 in his final home game on Sunday against Minnesota. Koenig was a third-team pick by the media.

In his final season, Nigel Hayes earned third-team honors from both the coaches and the media after scoring 13.5 points and grabbing 6.2 rebounds per game.

Happ and senior Zak Showalter were named to the Big Ten’s All-Defensive Team, the second time for Happ and the first for Showalter. Wisconsin led the Big Ten in scoring defense at 61.4 points per game.

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, with Michigan State’s Malcom Bridges earning Freshman of the Year honors and Minnesota’s Richard Pitino picking up the Coach of the Year award.

The full list of award winners can be found here.

Happ lands on final ballot for John R. Wooden Award

MADISON, Wis. – Sophomore forward Ethan Happ of the No. 22 Wisconsin men’s basketball team has been named to the final ballot for the John R. Wooden National Player of the Year Award, as announced by the Los Angeles Athletic Club on Saturday.

Chosen by a poll of national college basketball experts, the Wooden Award final ballot is comprised of 15 student-athletes who are front-runners for the sport’s most prestigious individual honor. A winner will be announced in April.

Happ became the seventh Badger to be named to the final ballot for the Wooden Award. In 2015, Frank Kaminsky became the first player in program history to win the award, as he went on to become consensus National Player of the Year.

Earlier this week, Happ was announced as one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy. The Milan, Illinois, native is also a midseason finalist for Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year and is a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award.

After a breakout freshman campaign garnered him Preseason All-Big Ten honors, Happ has been building a case to be an All-American in his sophomore season. Happ is the nation’s only player to lead his team in points (14.9 ppg), rebounds (8.5 rpg), assists (2.9 apg), blocks (1.5 bpg) and steals (2.5 spg) during conference play.

Over the last 20 seasons, only 3 major conference players have led their team in all 5 categories during conference play: Utah’s Delon Wright (2014), St. John’s D.J. Kennedy (2010) and Virginia Tech’s Bryant Matthews (2003).

Happ is the only player in the NCAA averaging at least 14.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. In fact, over the last 20 years, no major conference player has reached those marks for an entire season.


Ethan Happ named semifinalist for Naismith Trophy Player of the Year

MADISON, Wis. — At Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Wednesday morning the list of 10 semifinalists for the 2017 Naismith Trophy Player of the Year, which included the University of Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ.

National Semifinalists
Lonzo Ball | UCLA
Ethan Happ | Wisconsin
Josh Hart | Villanova
Justin Jackson | North Carolina
Josh Jackson | Kansas
Luke Kennard | Duke
Frank Mason | Kansas
Johnathan Motley | Baylor
Caleb Swanigan | Purdue
Nigel Williams-Goss | Gonzaga

Happ is shooting 59.9 percent from the field this season, while averaging 14.1 points per game. Those numbers differ slightly in Big Ten Conference play, at 54.4 percent and 15.1 points per game.

The four finalists will be named on Mar. 19.

Wisconsin falls at Michigan State

Nigel Hayes scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but No. 16 Wisconsin fell for a second straight game, this time 84-74 at Michigan State on Sunday.

The Badgers got out to a solid start, leading 10-4, but the Spartans would score 15 of the next 19 points to take a lead they would not relinquish. Center Nick Ward scored a team-high 22 points for Michigan State, while forward Miles Bridges added 17 and guard Matt McQuaid came off the bench to contribute 15.

Wisconsin’s issues were aplenty, including going just 13 of 25 from the foul line, making a brutal 14 of 31 layups and allowing 80-plus points in back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time since 1993. It all led to the Badgers fourth loss in their last five games.

Hayes’ afternoon, which also included four assists and solid defense on Bridgers, overshadowed by a 4 of 12 effort from the foul line.

Wisconsin’s Zak Showalter played well offensively, scoring 15 points, including three 3-pointers, while Bronson Koenig went for 17 points (1 of 9 on 3-pointers).

The Badgers leading scorer coming in, sophomore Ethan Happ, had just eight points but did grab 11 boards.

The loss leaves Wisconsin (22-7, 11-5) one-game back of Purdue and one-game up on Maryland, Michigan State and Minnesota in the Big Ten standings. The Badgers will finish out the conference season with a pair of home games — Thursday against Iowa and Sunday against Minnesota.

No. 16 Wisconsin upset at Ohio State 83-73

Bronson Koenig scored had 27 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough for No. 16 Wisconsin in an embarrassing 83-73 loss at Ohio State Thursday night.

The Buckeyes, just 5-10 in Big Ten play coming in, trailed for only 2:59 of the game on their way to easily their best win of the season. Coach Thad Matta’s team made 10 of their 16 3-point attempts, a high in conference play, and shot 50 percent for the game — just the fourth team this year to do that against Wisconsin.

Ohio State was paced by C.J. Jackson’s 18 points, while JaQuan Lyle added 17 off the bench.

Koenig was the lone consistent weapon for Wisconsin, who lost for a third time in four games. The senior went 5 of 9 from beyond the arc, and in doing so passed Ben Brust for the most 3-pointers in school history.

The other members of Wisconsin’s ‘Big 3’ — Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ — combined for just 11 points on 4 of 11 shooting, and for just the third time this year, Happ didn’t shoot a single free throw.

The loss dropped the Badgers (22-6, 11-4) into second place in the Big Ten, one game back of Purdue with three to go. Wisconsin will travel to Michigan State on Sunday, a place it hasn’t won since 2004.

Wisconsin snaps a two-game losing streak with a 71-60 win over Maryland

MADISON — No. 11 Wisconsin turned a six-point halftime deficit into a much needed double-digit win on Sunday, snapping a two-game losing streak by beating No. 23 Maryland 71-60 at the Kohl Center.

“I thought guys, especially in the second half, answered the bell, so to speak,” coach Greg Gard said of his team’s effort.

After managing to hit just 28 percent of their shots in the first half, the Badgers saw Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ shoot a combined 9 of 15 after the break on their way to making 51.5 percent from the field in the second half. Add in the fact they turned the ball over just once in the final 20 minutes and limited Maryland to just eight made field goals, and it was clear why they were successful.

“That was more like (who) this team is,” Gard said.

Hayes, two days after saying he needed to be more assertive and step his game up, did just that, scoring a game-high 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds — his second double-double in Big Ten play. Nine of his points came at the free throw line, an indication of his aggressiveness.

“We’re not the best outside shooting team, currently,” said Hayes, who was 0 of 2 from 3-point range on a team that made just 2 of their 12 shots from deep. “I tried to do my best to get to the rim, try to draw some fouls.”

Happ scored 20 points and added seven rebounds despite dealing with foul trouble in the second half.

But the biggest lift may have come in the form of Bronson Koenig. Wisconsin prepared like they wouldn’t have the senior guard for a second straight game due to a calf injury, but he ended up coming off the bench and played 31 minutes.

His first make, a 3-pointer, tied the game at 36 with 16:29 left. The next time down the court he hit a jumper to give the Badgers a 38-36 lead. He made two more shots later in the game and finished with nine points, all in the second half.

“It was great for him to get back in the flow of things,” senior Zak Showalter said of Koenig. “He’s had five days off so he was a little bit slow but it was good to see him come in and contribute.”

Koenig wasn’t the only one off the bench to help. Redshirt freshman Brevin Pritzl, who didn’t play a minute in the loss to Michigan on Thursday, gave the Badgers seven points and seven rebounds, including five on the offensive end, which led to six second-chance points for Wisconsin.

Maryland was paced by Melo Trimble’s 27 points, but the junior guard didn’t play in the final 4:32, with coach Mark Turgeon saying he was tired, pointing to five missed free throws during the game.

The win leaves Wisconsin (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten) in a tie with Purdue atop the Big Ten with four games to play.

The Badgers next to contests are on the road, with a trip to Ohio State on Thursday and a visit to Michigan State on Sunday.


— Former Wisconsin running back James White was honored during the game for his performance in Super Bowl LI. He caught a Super Bowl-record 14 passes and scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime to help the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons and win their second title in three years.

— Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson was in attendance, sitting behind the Wisconsin bench. He was recognized during the game as well as the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year.

— Former Wisconsin forward Duje Dukan, currently playing with the Chicago Bulls’ D-League team, was also at the game.

Happ, Wisconsin’s defense push the No. 10 Badgers past Indiana

MADISON | Wisconsin got 20 points from Ethan Happ and held Indiana to its second-lowest point total of the year in a 65-60 win on Sunday at the Kohl Center.

“I’m not going to claim it’s our most intelligent display of basketball at times,” coach Greg Gard said, “but we were able to do enough good things at the right times.”

The Badgers built a 12-point lead in the first half, but a 14-2 run by the Hoosiers tied things up with 2:33 left. Wisconsin scored just five points in the final 8:22 of the period, and led 27-24 at the break.

The Badgers managed to build a 9-point lead in the first 5:20 of the second half, but another scoring drought allowed a banged-up Indiana squad to stay within single digits the rest of the way, getting within two on a Robert Johnson jumper midway through the period.

Wisconsin seemingly put Indiana away thanks to a 3-pointer from Zak Showalter with 1:37 left to make it 58-50, but the Hoosiers weren’t done. They got a pair of free throws from Josh Newkirk with 28 seconds left to get within three points, before the Badgers hit 5 of 6 free throws to close the game out, earning their 19th straight win at the Kohl Center.

It was another struggle on the offensive end for Wisconsin, who shot 40 percent from the field and just 4 of 17 from beyond the arc. The lone consistent option was Happ, who made 8 of his 10 shots, including a late steal and dunk that gave him his fourth 20-plus point game of the year.

“I don’t think it’s anything we can do except keep shooting,” Happ said of the struggles. “We’ve got shooters and sometimes they just slump a little bit.

“We’ll eventually start making them.”

The Badgers overcame those struggles because of their work on the other end. For the fourth straight game, Wisconsin held its opponent under 1.0 points per possession, a metric the program has lived by since former coach Bo Ryan took over in 2001, with anything under 1.0 being acceptable. Indiana came in a .938.

“Thank goodness there’s two sides of basketball, and we’re able to make up some things on defense,” Nigel Hayes said. “This is a high scoring Indiana team, so to hold them to 60 points is a really good deal for us. It’s the only reason why we won.”

Hayes finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, with nearly half his points coming at the free throw line. A problem area for the Badgers much of the season, Hayes was 7 of 8 and the team went 23 of 31 from the line.

The win was the seventh in a row for the Badgers, who are now 20-3 on the year and 9-1 in the Big Ten. With the win, and Maryland’s loss on Saturday, Wisconsin now leads the conference by one game on the Terrapins and two games on Purdue.

The Badgers travel to Nebraska this Thursday.