The No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers came out victorious in their first round matchup against the No. 9 Virginia Tech Hokies in Buffalo, New York, by a final score of 84-74 on Thursday night. Wisconsin is one of the most experienced teams in the country, and showed that Thursday night, as long time Badgers Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes led the way, and the whole team buckled down to do their respective jobs within the game with no more games guaranteed on the season.
Outstanding play by seniors
The senior class of Koenig, Hayes, Zak Showalter and Vitto Brown has already accomplished more than many players dream about, including back-to-back trips to the Final Four, as well as a surprise trip to the Sweet Sixteen last season. The quartet even made it to the 2015 National Championship game, but after an incredible turnaround last season, they wanted to continue to build upon their legacy.
In a matchup with the Buzz Williams-led Hokies of Virginia Tech, Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes led the way.
Koenig scored a game-high and a new career-high 28 points for the Badgers, which was an impressive 33% of the team’s total points. Overall, Koenig shot 9/21 from the field, with eight of the nine makes coming from deep.
With this performance, Koenig set the single game record for most threes made in the history of the Wisconsin program.
Although it might not have been as aesthetically pleasing, Koenig wasn’t the only Badger senior to put on a show. In the second half, Nigel Hayes helped to take over the game.
Hayes finished with a solid 16 points, including 14 of those in the second half. If that wasn’t enough, Hayes also grabbed 10 rebounds, with six coming on the offensive end.
And most importantly, the senior from Toledo, Ohio, was nearly perfect from the charity stripe, finishing 8/9 for the game.
The little things done right
In this do or die contest, the Badgers played with what Coach Gard described as a “total team effort.”
Sophomore Khalil Iverson is not known for his numbers, but he filled up the stat sheet on Thursday. To go along with Koenig, Iverson was the cog that keyed Wisconsin in the first half.
Iverson finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, both well above his season average. Similar to Hayes, Iverson was also solid from the line, shooting 7/10 for the game.
All of this meant just a little more to Iverson and his teammates last night, as the second-year player was back home dealing with multiple deaths in the family. Iverson missed parts of the Big Ten Tournament to be home with his family
As a team, Wisconsin shot 19/25 (76%) from the free throw line, had 19 assists, just eight turnovers, and out-rebounded the Hokies by 12.
These numbers are nothing new for the program, but are a little different than what has been seen from this year’s team, especially as of late.
With the complete performance and the win now behind them, the Badgers look to upset the No. 1 overall seed Villanova Wildcats on Saturday afternoon, in order to get back to their nation-high sixth Sweet Sixteen in seven years. Game tip is at 1:40 p.m. CT on CBS.