The Badgers bounced back from their loss at Creighton with a 69-51 win over Chicago State on Thursday night. Here are the major takeaways from the game.
Bench steps up
The bench, considered to be one of the Badgers’ strengths, was only able to muster up nine points in Tuesday’s loss. On Thursday night, the bench gave the Badgers starters a major boost in the first half.
After an early 8-0 deficit, Gard subbed in three bench players before the 18:00 mark in the first half. The first five Badger points would come via the bench, with a tip-in from Charles Thomas and a three from Jordan Hill. All five of the bench players that played (Thomas, Hill, Khalil Iverson, Alex Illikainen, and D’Mitrik Trice) scored in the first half.
Khalil Iverson finished the game with 11 points, Alex Illikainen chipped in eight, and Charles Thomas added seven points.
D’Mitrik Trice’s pure point guard ability
D’Mitrik Trice may be the best pure point guard on the roster, including Bronson Koenig. In fact, one of the best lineups the Badgers played with all night featured Trice playing the point guard position and Koenig playing off the ball. During that span, Trice found Koenig twice for threes, both of which Koenig knocked down.
Trice seems to always find the open man. He runs the offense like a senior. His eight assists on Thursday night are more than Koenig has all season, which isn’t saying much because Koenig only has three assists on the year. Trice makes players around him better more so than Koenig, and allowing him to spot up on offense more could make Bronson even scarier on the perimeter for defenses.
Khalil Iverson’s productivity
The Badgers have had many glue guys over the past decade. You think about Joe Krabbenhoft, Josh Gasser, Mike Bruesewitz, and even Zak Showalter. Iverson has a chance to be one of the best glue guys the Badgers have had.
Iverson’s athleticism for the most part, is unmatched. He showed this last year mainly through dunks. This year, he’s had the dunks, but it is all the other things that Iverson’s doing that is the most impressive. On Thursday night Khalil had 11 points on five-of-seven shooting, three offensive rebounds, two blocks (including one that he sent the basketball to about the third row), two steals, a few nice passes, and, oh yeah…three monster jams.
Iverson is also an outstanding on-ball defender, but is a terror in the passing lanes on off-ball defense.
Ethan Happ’s slow start continues
Ethan Happ averaged 12.5 ppg and 7.9 rpg on his way to his Freshman of the Year Award last year. This year, he hasn’t scored in double figures yet. Happ was an efficient four-of-six from the floor, but he needs more than six shots. This isn’t necessarily all his fault, his teammates need to get him the ball on the block more, but Happ also needs to be more aggressive himself as well. So far this season, he’s averaging five shots a game. Five shots is about half as many as he should be averaging.
Happ only played eight minutes in the first half and only attempted two shots. The Badgers need him to start faster than that, and faster than he has all season.
Happ finished the game with eight points, and is now averaging 7.5 ppg. Happ has done a tremendous job rebounding thus far, and continued to do so grabbing seven against Chicago State.
Vitto Brown has best performance of the year
After Vitto Brown went scoreless in the first outing against Central Arkansas, he’s bounced back with better performances in the second and third games.
Brown’s 12 points led the way for the Badgers and he was an efficient five-of-seven from the floor. If Brown can continue to convert open looks, it will take a lot of pressure off of Hayes and Koenig.