After getting back on the winning track at home against Chicago State, the sixteenth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers took their talents to Maui to face Tennessee in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. The Badgers battled throughout on their way to a hard-fought 74-62 win over the Volunteers.
Wisconsin fell to #16 in the AP poll this week, but played like one of the top teams in the country early in the game against a well-coached Rick Barnes squad.
The Badgers got off to a very quick 12-0 start, highlighted by jumpers from Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, and an and-one finish from big man Ethan Happ. Wisconsin certainly made a point of getting Happ involved early, with seven points in under 10 minutes to start the game.
After starting 7-for-7 from the field, Wisconsin cooled off and ended the first half at 16 of 27 shooting, to help lead 40-32. The highlight of the first half had to have been a beautiful fastbreak dish from D’Mitrik Trice to Vitto Brown for a huge slam.
The Badgers had most of the highlights, but Tennessee’s Detrick Mostella was a bright spot for the Volunteers. He finished with 12 first half points, and was their offense most of the half.
Wisconsin shot very well in the first at nearly 60%, but turnovers continue to be a problem for this team, with nine of them in just the first half, including at least two passes thrown out of bounds, and an over and back call. The team finished with a whopping 18 turnovers on the day.
Tennessee came out very aggressive in the second half, scoring the first eight points and tying the game at 40 about two and a half minutes into the second period. The Volunteers were amidst a 15-2 run at the time, while the Badgers had five empty possessions in a row.
But Tennessee didn’t stop there, taking their first lead of the game 42-40 at the 15:58 mark, and quieting many of the Badger faithful that made the trip to Maui.
The teams traded baskets and the game was tied at 46, until Hayes scored five quick points and gave the Badgers back the lead in the second half. Terrific play from Wisconsin’s big three led the team on a 12-2 run, and a 56-48 lead at the 7:41 mark.
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Badgers, led by their big three of Koenig, Happ, and Hayes, led the team to the win. Koenig finished with 21 points and four assists, Happ with 16 and six rebounds, and Hayes with a double-double of 17 and 10 boards, respectively.
The #16 Badgers will move on in the Maui Invitational, and face Georgetown tomorrow night at 7:00.