Sconnie Sports Talk

Wisconsin men’s basketball: Badgers dominate Idaho State down low on way to 78-44 victory

Ariana Baldassano, Sconnie Sports Talk

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MADISON — The Badgers came into their matchup against Idaho State on a three-game winning streak, including dominant wins over storied programs such as Oklahoma and Syracuse.

On Wednesday night, Idaho State wasn’t enough of a test to threaten the Badgers’ winning streak, with the Badgers easily winning the contest 78-44 and improving their streak to four games.

The Badgers asserted their dominance from the tip-off, leading the Bengals 21-3 at one point during the first half. Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes combined 21 points in the first half on their way to a commanding 35-16 lead at the break. Idaho State had a rough time trying to compete with the Badgers during the first half, including three times as many turnovers than assists and a 6/21 effort from the field.

Although always in control, the Badgers certainly had stretches during the game where they came down to the level of their competition. The Badgers had a scoring drought over three minutes during the first half. But Idaho State, who came into the game 1-7, never had enough firepower to ever make the Badgers nervous.

Idaho State’s leading scorer Ethan Telfair, the little brother of former New York sensation Sebastian Telfair, came in averaging just under 20 points per game for the Bengals. The Badgers did a great job of defending him, not allowing him to score a point in the first half. Zak Showalter was the primary defender on Telfair, who finished with only two points. 

Telfair didn’t score until there were just a few minutes left in the game. 

“I didn’t want him to get one (point),” Showalter said after the game. “I wanted to keep him at zero.”

We did a good job of making life difficult,” Gard said, “specifically for Telfair, who’s been scoring at a high rate.”

The entire Badgers defense did a great job as a whole, allowing just a season-low of 44 points. Idaho State turned the ball over 18 times and the Badgers were able to turn that into a 23-5 advantage in the points off turnovers statistic.

Khalil Iverson and D’Mitrik Trice, the Badgers best contributors off the bench so far this season, worked together for the highlight play of the game. Trice had a beautiful alley-oop pass, perfectly laid from the left wing to the right side of the hoop just out of place for an outstretched hand of a defender, to Iverson who slammed it home over the defender.

The Badgers had a less than stellar effort shooting the ball on Wednesday night, going just 6/20 from beyond the arc, but were able to combat that by controlling the paint. The Badgers outscored the Bengals in the paint 44-14. In addition to winning the paint, the Badgers also outrebounded Idaho State 47-21.

Bronson Koenig led the Badgers in scoring with 21 points, scoring 16 of those after the break. Conversely, Happ and Hayes who did much of the heavy lifting during the first half only scored combined for only three points in the final 20 minutes. Happ had his fourth double-double in the last six games, finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

With the game being a blow out from the get-go, Gard was able to keep the team well rested before an in-state battle with Marquette on Saturday. Koenig and Vitto Brown both played under 20 minutes and Hayes and Happ both played 22 minutes. The bench received much more playing time, with Trice playing a team-high 26 minutes. 

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