MADISON- After handily defeating the Bulldogs of South Carolina State in the season opener, Wisconsin played host to the Yale Bulldogs Sunday afternoon. The Badgers essentially controlled the game from the opening tip, winning by a final score of 89-61.
Wisconsin’s early scoring came from some of Friday night’s stars, with Brevin Pritzl scoring on an aggressive drive to the hoop off a foul, and Andy Van Vliet hitting yet another three for the Badgers.
An early Wisconsin highlight came from none other than Khalil Iverson, who had a nice ball fake from the top of the key, and threw down a one-handed slam on a Yale defender. Iverson was incredibly aggressive early, especially compared to the season opener, where the junior did not attempt a single shot.
A couple Badgers freshmen looked good in the first half, with Aleem Ford scoring five points, and Brad Davison putting up five as well, including a deep three showing his sweet stroke from the top of the key.
All-American Ethan Happ was quiet in the first half scoring column with just four points, but also grabbed eight boards and was double teamed just about every time he touched the ball. At the half, Iverson led all scorers with 13 points, as the Badgers led 41-22.
Happ got things rolling for the Badgers in the second half, scoring seven of the team’s first 13 to push the Badgers’ lead to 54-30 at the first media timeout. When Happ went out at about the 16 minute mark, he already had 11 points and nine boards on the day.
The ongoing rotation at the four position continued in the second half, with former walk-on Aaron Moesch stepping in and getting a few minutes on the court for the Badgers.
After a sloppy few minutes for the Badgers, the team turned it up on both ends, as Iverson and Van Vliet combined for eight in the stretch and Wisconsin grabbed their biggest lead of the day, 71-44, with under eight minutes left to play.
D’Mitrik Trice got up to double figures, with a personal 7-0 run in about 25 seconds, to put the Badgers up 86-53 with 3:03 to go.
Wisconsin’s chemistry, size and physicality were all too much for the Bulldogs, as the Badgers rolled to an 89-61 victory to improve to 2-0. Iverson, Happ, Van Vliet and Trice all scored in double figures, and helped lead Wisconsin to the easy win, with Happ picking up his second double-double in as many games.
Overall, the unranked Badgers have looked pretty solid through two games, outscoring their opponents by an average of 31.5 points per game, and Wisconsin coach Greg Gard is pleased with the team for the most part.
“For the first two games of the year, I’m really happy with the progression that has been made, ” Gard said after the victory.
One real strength of this young Badgers team is their ability to score and hurt you in different ways, especially when teams double Happ, who talked about this during postgame, stating, “I’m a big fan of the way we’ve been playing…it’s different guys on different nights, and it’s very important to have that many scoring threats out there on the floor.”
That being said, Wisconsin shot just 32% from long-range tonight, and if they want to be successful with Happ being double-teamed, the Badgers will have to knock down their three-pointers. Coach Gard was asked about the team’s shot selection from deep tonight, as they put up 22 shots from beyond the arc.
“At times, it was too quick. I thought there were a couple times, specifically on offensive rebounds, where we could have made it hurt a little more. Maybe we weren’t that open, or we weren’t set, and who took it.”
Wisconsin starts the season 2-0, and has looked impressive at times as well, but will really have to be efficient as 17th ranked Xavier comes to the Kohl Center on Thursday night.