MADISON- Wisconsin took care of business on Saturday against Grambling State with an all-hands-on-deck-effort, winning 84-53. The Badgers had a well-balanced scoring attack; seven players scored at least five points and four players were in double-figures. With the win, the Badgers improved to 10-2 on the year.
Ethan Happ stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists. And that was just at the half. The senior center finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, and five assists on 50% shooting from the field. Happ did not play very much after halftime, and was unable to continue his impressive double-double output so far this season. Happ led the Badgers in points, rebounds, and assists.
When it rained for Wisconsin, it poured. Greg Gard’s squad used a pair of 15-2 runs to create separation from the Tigers. The two runs were part of a much bigger 40-9 run for the Badgers.
The Badgers took the lead early behind solid scoring off the bench from Kobe King. King scored eight of the Badgers first 16 points of the game, including two triples. Wisconsin then went cold, scoring just one basket from the field in six minutes as the Tigers tied the game at 22 apiece.
The Badgers ripped off one of the 15-2 runs after Grambling State tied the game up; Happ and Trice did most of the scoring damage. Aleem Ford did not score at all on the run, but made back-to-back stops on the defensive end with a block and forced a travel on a post up.
The Badgers scored the first seven points after halftime. A game that was once 22-22 was 46-27 in just a handful of game minutes. Wisconsin’s defense really tightened up, holding Grambling State scoreless for the first four minutes of the half and forcing the Tigers to a zero-of-six start.
Coach Gard talked about the improved defense during the run in his postgame press conference. “I thought we were better defending ball screens, and specifically in the second half, not allowing a lot of post action,” Gard said.
Sophomore guard Brad Davison did not make much of a dent in the scoring column (he finished with 7 points), but he was animated all day. He celebrated with Ford after Ford took a charge and was having his fair share of fun on the bench when the starters sat watching the end of the game.
With 11 players in the scoring column for Wisconsin, Gard was also impressed by the depth of the team in this victory. “I like how this group has grown, and continues to find contributions in a number of ways,” Wisconsin’s head coach stated.
The Badgers shot 10/21 from the free throw line against Marquette a couple games ago in a tough overtime loss, but the Badgers showed improvement on Saturday with one of their best games from the charity stripe. As a group, the Badgers shot 20/26 from the line.
Up next, the 10-2 Badgers play at Western Kentucky on December 29th.