The Badgers were defeated by #22 Baylor tonight in the first round of the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City on Monday night. Baylor never trailed, despite a ferocious Badger comeback in the second half, on their way to a 70-65 victory. The Badgers have lost two straight as their record now falls to 2-2.
Wisconsin fans surely received a scare when freshman standout Brad Davison exited the game with a shoulder injury in the second half. Davison got locked up going for a steal with Nuni Omot and grimaced in pain, and he was taken back to the locker room to get it checked out. Davison is praised for his toughness, and on Monday night he proved it. In typical Davison fashion, he would promptly return and hit a pair of threes igniting a spark.
That spark would ignite a run.
Wisconsin ripped off an 18-3 run behind Ethan Happ, Davison, and Khalil Iverson. The Badgers dominated the offensive boards and capitalized on second-chance points as they cut a 17 point deficit down to 57-55 with just over 2:00 left to play. Davison continued to carve up the Baylor zone finding easy buckets for others, especially Happ.
Baylor senior point guard Manu Lecomte basically iced the Badgers from the free throw line after that, leaving the Badgers comeback effort short. Lecomte was fouled on a three-point attempt, and then the next possession Davison would foul him on a two-point jumper. Lecomte hit five straight free throws, rebuilding their lead to 62-55, and the Badgers never recovered.
While Lecomte led the Bears in points, scoring 23 points on 3/5 from the three-point and 12/13 on free-throws, Jo Lual-Aucil gave Wisconsin fits in the first half.
The Baylor big man had 16 first-half points, the period in which the Bears ran out to their big lead, as Lual-Aucil was two short of his previous scoring output of 18. He would finish with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Lual-Aucil really set the tone for Baylor starting out 5/5 from the field as Baylor secured a big lead.
Happ had his typical big night, leading the Badgers in points and rebounds with 23 and 13 respectively. Davison continues to become a fan favorite as he finished with 13 points and three assists. Aleem Ford chipped in 10 points, but those were the only three players in double-digits for Wisconsin.
The only real positive Wisconsin had in the first half Wisconsin was that they dominated the paint thanks to Ethan Happ. Happ scored 10 points and had a few nice surgical passes through Baylor’s zone. Happ also had a dish to a cutting Brevin Pritzl for a reverse layup and later would feed Iverson an easy dunk on the block.
Badger fans have to love the toughness and resiliency this young squad showed against a really good Baylor squad, but they also learned an important lesson that it takes two quality halves win a game.
Creighton beat UCLA 100-89 in other game of the Hall of Fame Classic, so Wisconsin plays the Bruins tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. in Kansas City in a consolation matchup.