MADISON – Wisconsin took care of business against an inferior opponent on Saturday afternoon, dismantling Umass Lowell 82-53. The win increases the Badgers’ winning streak to four games, the Badgers have scored at least 80 points in each win.
For a team that’s looked lethargic offensively at times, Wisconsin had one of their more complete performances of the season. Greg Gard’s squad shot just over 56 percent from the field and went 8/15 from beyond the arch. Brevin Pritzl was the confident sniper that the Badgers need him to be more often, as Pritzl scored a career-high 18 points with four three-pointers.
Pritzl said of his and the team’s success shooting the basketball: “We’re just trying to shoot with confidence and take the good ones and not force anything.”
Ethan Happ was much more aggressive out of the gate than he’s been lately. He took nine shot attempts in the first half. He took 12, nine, and 12 in full games against Western Kentucky, Green Bay, and Chicago State respectively. Happ also dished two assists that led to threes via Aleem Ford and Brad Davison after the defense collapsed on him. The All-American finished with 18 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
When Happ was out, the reserves continued to do damage from inside. Reuvers had a dunk and a nice post finish. Charles Thomas, getting his first action since the Green Bay game, scored from close range. The Badgers matched UML’s first-half output (20) with points in the paint alone.
Happ and company built a steady lead, but then the shooters would catch fire to really take control of the contest.
With the Badgers up 29-16 in the first half, Brevin Pritzl and Ford hit back-to-back threes. Ford caught the ball in the paint, pump faked, took a dribble to the side and stepped back for a beautiful looking bucket. The freshman seems to have gotten more comfortable as the season has progressed. Ford has hit 13 of his last 22 shots from deep, a stretch spanning seven games. Pritzl hit another three before the end of the half, pushing UW’s lead up to 22.
“Well his confidence has definitely grown,” Greg Gard said of Ford. “I think he’s still learning a lot specifically on the defensive end of the floor. He’s gotten better to an extent with his decision making offensively… I think he’s got great potential, I’m excited for his future.”
The sharp-shooting leaked into the second half. Pritzl opened up the second half with a three off of another pass from Happ. Then, it was Davison time.
Davison got the Kohl Center crowd fired up with beautiful lobs leading to easy buckets for the Badgers on consecutive plays. First, he lobbed a pass to Happ on an out of bounds play that the big man was able to tip-in. Then, he threw one up for Iverson that he was able to hammer home. The freshman had a nice pass to Reuvers for another dunk, and then Davison would do it himself with a nice scoop-shot finish while he was getting fouled. Davison led the team with six assists.
The 29-point victory was the Badgers biggest margin of victory of the year. The previous high was the season opener against South Carolina State on November 10th when the Badgers won by 25 points.
With the nice cushion, Gard was able to rest his key players. Happ and Davison played seven and eight minutes in the second half, respectively.
Up next, the Badgers host Indiana on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. to resume Big Ten play!