The Badgers faced UW-Stout in their final exhibition game on Sunday afternoon. Wisconsin won without starting point guard D’Mitrik Trice, 85-56. Kobe King led all scorers with 17 points off the bench. Wisconsin shot 9/24 from the three-point line on their way to a victory.
Head coach Greg Gard was pleased with the challenges that UW-Stout presented Wisconsin, particularly with their full-court pressure defensively and motion offense.
“We saw the pressure the whole game, we saw a team running that’s running a motion offense with five men which we typically don’t see,” Gard said. “Taught us a lot, I think we learned a lot throughout the game.”
With Trice out, true freshman Brad Davison started and didn’t miss a beat. Davison finished with 13 points, but the point guard had 10 points in the first half when the Badgers were stagnant offensively. Davison hit three three-pointers and got to the free throw line five times. Davison’s quickness and toughness around the rim will have him at the charity stripe often throughout his career.
King, another true freshman, continues to show his ability to score from all areas of the floor. King had two dunks, one on a fastbreak and the other after a strong drive to the hoop. The freshman also went 1/2 from beyond the arch.
“Just staying confident and staying aggressive throughout these games has been big for me,” King said.
It’s clear that Gard expects the freshmen to contribute when the games start counting for real.
“Kobe has been very opportunistic,” Gard said of King. “Physically, both him and Brad, are not your typical freshman.”
Ethan Happ didn’t attempt a single field goal until there was 12:12 left in the game, but he was fouled so that didn’t even count as an official attempt. UW-Stout made it clear they weren’t going to let the All-American beat them and doubled down hard on every post touch Happ had. Happ has seemed more than comfortable taking a backseat role during the preseason to let the younger, inexperienced players find their way early on.
Happ finished with two points, three assists, and four rebounds in 22 minutes.
UW-Stout lingered around for longer than Gard probably would’ve liked. The Badgers struggled on the defensive end, but Stout couldn’t get out of their own way with travels, offensive fouls and multiple instances where players stepped out of bounds without much pressure.
The Badgers first half offense wasn’t pretty either, but Wisconsin benefited from being in the double bonus with more than eight minutes left in the first half. Wisconsin ended up 11/14 from the charity stripe in the first twenty minutes compared to UW-Stout’s one free throw attempt and make. Gard was unpleased with UW’s shot selection during the first half.
Something of note for depth chart purposes, Alex Illikainen didn’t check into the game until there was just under 12:00 left in the second half. Nate Reuvers (10) and Charles Thomas (10) saw more minutes off the bench than Illikainen (6).
Andy Van Vliet and Khalil Iverson both chipped in 11 points. Van Vliet was perfect from the field (5/5) and Khalil had a couple of highlight slams in typical Khalil fashion. Iverson also hit a three-pointer, his second straight game connecting from beyond the arch.
Gard called Trice’s injury “not too serious” and expects him to be back soon.
The Badgers have their first regular season game on Friday against South Carolina State at 6 p.m.