MADISON- With several major injuries and a missed NCAA Tournament berth last season, the 2018-2019 Wisconsin Badgers returned just about everyone from last year’s rotation, and wanted to put the past behind them. On Tuesday, they took the first step in doing that, picking up a win at home over Coppin State, 85-63.
Wisconsin was a heavy favorite at home against Coppin State, and the Badgers did not disappoint.
Sophomore point guard D’Mitrik Trice was one of the key Badgers returning from injury, and he did not take long to make his presence felt. Trice hit a three to start the game, and then quickly hit another, en route to a career-high five three-pointers and 17 points, in just the first half.
Wisconsin’s star player Ethan Happ, a Preseason All Big-Ten honoree, was not as aggressive from the field in this first half. But, he was a key play maker going into the break, with four points to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists in the first twenty minutes.
Brevin Pritzl was a major bright spot for Wisconsin off the bench, shooting 3/3 from long range and adding 11 points for the Badgers in the half.
Wisconsin was down 11-6 to begin the game, and then didn’t look back, taking a commanding 49-27 lead into the locker room.
The Badgers opened up the second half slowly on both ends, allowing the Eagles to get the lead all the way down to 15. Happ stepped up then, and Trice and Pritzl continued their hot shooting to get the lead back into the 20 range.
Ethan Happ did not force his shot at all, but instead looked to be a facilitator for his teammates on the evening, and it paid off. Needing two more points to get the second triple-double in Badgers history, Happ calmly stepped up to the line and knocked down two free throws. Happ finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists, and walked off the floor to a standing ovation.
There was a lot that went well for Wisconsin, including scoring over 80 points, as well as shooting an incredible 21/22 from the free throw line. Wisconsin also really showed its depth, with seven players scoring at least seven points on the night.
Trice finished with a career-high 21 points, Pritzl chipped in 16 and King looked really good and confident off the bench with eight points of his own, helping the Badgers to a 85-63 victory.
Wisconsin starts the season on a positive note, and will now wait a week to play again until the 13th, as the Badgers will take on the Xavier Musketeers.
A big part of Coppin State’s gameplan was to try to take away Ethan Happ, and force others to make plays for Wisconsin, and Happ was asked about this after the game tonight.
“It’s nice to have Meech (D’Mitrik) back, and Brad and Brevin can knock down shots and we have a lot of shooters,” Happ explained. “You could kind of tell that was their gameplan, so it worked out well to have them knock shots down early.”
Trice, Davison and Pritzl combined for 10 of the team’s 12 three-pointers on the night.
Coach Gard also enjoyed that Happ completed his triple-double at the free throw-line, stating, “I think it’s fitting that Happ got that on the free-throw line. Nobody has put more time in than he has working on that and his individual game.”