BUFFALO, N.Y. | Wisconsin senior Bronson Koenig wasn’t about to let Thursday night’s NCAA first round game vs. Virginia Tech be his final game in a Badgers uniform. Koenig scored a game-high 28 points and hit 8 of 17 three-pointers to lead the Badgers to an 84-74 win over the Hokies. Wisconsin (26-9) will play top-seeded Villanova (32-3) in the second round Saturday at approximately 1:40 p.m. CT on CBS. The defending national champion Wildcats advanced with a 76-56 win over No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s earlier on Thursday.
Koenig hit 3 of 8 three-pointers and scored 11 points in the first half to help UW build a four-point lead. He was even better in the second half when he hit 5 of 9 three-pointers.
Koenig got some help from his friends especially senior Nigel Hayes who hit 8 consecutive free throws, many coming in some key moments late in the second half. Hayes recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Khalil Iverson also provided solid play off the bench. Playing less than a week after two of his cousins were shot to death in Columbus, Ohio, Iverson scored 11 points and added 7 rebounds in 21 minutes. It was his best performance of the season.
UW, which has had problems hitting free throws at times this season, finished 19 of 25 from the line (76.0%). The Badgers built a four-point halftime lead without sophomore Ethan Happ for the final 10:13 after Happ picked up his second foul. Wisconsin also played without senior Zak Showalter for the final five minutes of the game after Showalter fouled out on a questionable call. Fortunately for Showalter it was not the end to his Badgers career as his teammates held off the Hokies and advanced to Saturday’s second round to face the defending champs.