Wisconsin destroys Siena 92-65 for first win of season

Madison, WI — It’s safe to say Bo Ryan ran a pretty good practice on Saturday in between the Badgers’ stunning loss to Western Illinois and tonight’s 92-65 win over Siena.

Click here for photos from tonight’s game.

Despite forwards Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ getting into foul trouble early on and throughout, Bronson Koenig and Vitto Brown led a much better performance by Wisconsin on Sunday night. Koenig had a career high in points with 23 to go with four assists and Brown had a career high 16 points with seven rebounds. The team shot 58.5% from the field, 83.3% from the free throw line, and 41.7% from three. It was a much better shooting performance, and the team’s strong defensive performance (Siena shot 39.3% overall and 18.8% from three) was great to see after Friday’s debacle.

The Badgers were also able to get Siena in foul trouble (although they committed some fouls as well) early on in the first half, and Wisconsin converted on free throws, going 12-16 from the charity stripe in the first 20 minutes. The Badgers played very well in the first half even without Hayes, outscoring Siena 32-19 in his first half absence. Hayes still managed to score 14 points in only 21 minutes of action, and freshmen bench players Charlie Thomas and Khalil Iverson were able to fill in quite nicely.

Wisconsin scored 1.33 points per possession and turned the ball over only 10 times while compiling 12 assists (1.20 assist/turnover ratio). The team was able to get more points in the paint and not settle for as many jump shots, as well as break Siena’s press throughout. The Badgers did struggle protecting the rim again tonight, and it was shown through Hayes and Happ’s foul trouble.

Freshman forward Alex Illikainen did see the floor for 7 minutes and scored 6 points on 2-3 shooting, which indicated that he will not be redshirting this year. There were rumors that he sat down with Bo Ryan this past week to make a decision. Some are speculating that Illikainen’s decision not to redshirt could say something about Andy Van Vliet’s eligibility hearing. We’ll know if Van Vliet won his appeal either tomorrow or Tuesday.

Another freshman also made his debut in guard Brevin Pritzl, who has been getting back to the court after suffering a broken foot over the summer. Pritzl, who is a lights out shooter and four-star recruit from De Pere, is a “difference-maker” for this team, according to Bo Ryan. As he gets back into “basketball shape” (also from Ryan), we will likely see him in the every game rotation, but Pritzl was very slow tonight on defense.

Freshman Jackson Bax, winner of the open tryout, also made his debut tonight in a cool moment along with fellow walk-on Will Decorah. Bax will not redshirt as well, meaning five of the six true freshmen for the Badgers will not redshirt this season.

Tomorrow, we’ll have player grades and the advanced stats breakdown from tonight’s game. Wisconsin takes on North Dakota at home on Tuesday night.

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

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