Kohl Center (Madison, WI) — It may have been just an exhibition game against an in-state program, but Wednesday night’s 101-46 victory over UW-River Falls showed us a lot about the 2015-16 Wisconsin men’s basketball team.

Expectedly, the Badgers starting lineup was (G – JR) Bronson Koenig, (G – R-JR) Zak Showalter, (F – JR) Nigel Hayes, (F – JR) Vitto Brown, and (F – R-FR) Ethan Happ. Throughout the game, Badgers head coach Bo Ryan used several different combinations, with three forwards and two guards like the starting lineup, and some lineups with three guards and two forwards.

The Badgers shot 55% to the Falcons 21%, shooting 45% from 3, 65% from the free throw line, and out-rebounded UW-River Falls 57-25.

Click here for our Badger Basketball podcast previewing the 2015-16 season.

Player Grades

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 9.49.33 PMForward Andy Van Vliet (eligibility), guard Matt Ferris (likely redshirt), and guard Brevin Pritzl (foot) did not play.

F Ethan Happ

Happ had a double-double already early in the second half, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 19 minutes. He showed a great inside game, showing off a few of his post-moves with both hands, as he was double-teamed much of the night. He also had a tremendous block on a corner three, as you’ll see below. Happ was only 2-5 from the free-throw line, which would be one area of improvement for the big man. Grade: A

“I had my ups and downs. I had some spots where I could’ve done better but like you said, it’s been a while since I’ve been out there in the rotation like that so it was a lot of fun.” – Ethan Happ on his 2015-16 debut.

F Nigel Hayes

Hayes, also known as the wedding crasher, filled out the stat sheet and highlight-reel as well, finishing with 16 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5-12 shooting from the field. He put on quite the performance in his return back to the Kohl Center in his third season, including some great baseline moves, including one dunk you’ll see below. Grade: A-

G Bronson Koenig

The junior point guard led the team with a +39 +/-, shooting 4-7 from the field (2-4), putting together 10 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds. He hit a few stepback jumpers, as well as played some great defense against the Division III Falcons. Grade: B

G Zak Showalter

Showalter struggled tonight, going 0-4 from the field, including a missed dunk he had off a steal. He also had two quick fouls in the first half, which led to his benching most of the first half. Not Showalter’s best performance. Grade: D

F Vitto Brown

The junior forward also struggled a bit tonight, with 3 early turnovers and only 5 points and 3 rebounds in 14 minutes. He was tough on defense, however, which will keep him in the starting lineup. Grade: D+

G Riley Dearring

After being upset about being left out of the top 10 at practice, Dearring was a spark off the bench, hitting 2 deep 3-pointers in the first half. He finished with 10 points in 16 minutes in a much needed confidence-boosting game. Grade: B+

F Alex Illikainen

The freshman forward surprisingly had a big impact tonight, going gor 12 points and 7 rebounds on 4-7 from the field, including 3-4 on free throws in 19 minutes. He showed confidence on the floor that we have not really seen in practice, and his performance will earn him some minutes in non-conference play with Andy Van Vliet’s eligibility situation on-going. Grade: A-

“Yeah the past couple weeks have been really good for me. I’ve built up my confidence a little bit and the pace of play is starting to slow down. It’s getting a little easier to make moves and stuff like that, so I’m definitely feeling a lot more confident.” – Illikainen on his first action at the Kohl Center.

F Charlie Thomas

Thomas, who has been a stud in practice so far this season, had a very strong second half. He finished the game with 12 points on 5-7 shooting and seven rebounds. Thomas’s emergence will give Bo Ryan a confident backup for Hayes. Grade: B+

“I think I’m still on the same track. I’m just trying to do all the little things to get on the floor and stay out there, like rebounding, playing defense, and hustling, all the things Coach Bo emphasizes, especially to us freshmen. So I’m just trying to do all the little things.” – Thomas on ability to contribute throughout the year.

G Jordan Hill

Hill played 14 minutes, but did not have a significant impact on this game, only hitting one of his three 3-point attempts on a beautiful behind-the-back play. Dearring had a much better performance tonight between the two backup guards. Grade: C

G Khalil Iverson

Iverson, the 6’5″ freshman, did not have the stat line like Happ or Hayes, but he played a productive 16 minutes. Iverson recorded blocks on back-to-back plays, and added 4 points, 3 assists, and 7 rebounds. Iverson reminds me a more athletic, freshman Josh Gasser. Grade: B+

G Jackson Bax and G Will Decorah

Bax, the “winner” of the open tryout, got two minutes of action, and a huge ovation from the crowd. Decorah, the former Badgers manager, also got to play two minutes, totaling a point and two assists, and some applause. Grade: N/A

The Badgers will travel to Dubuque, IA on Saturday to take on Northern Iowa in a “secret” scrimmage. They officially start the season on Friday, November 13 against Western Illinois at the Kohl Center.

Photo courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Department.