After slow start, freshmen help carry UW to exhibition victory over Northern Iowa

Kobe King is out for the rest of the season after injuring his left knee. Sports editor Ben Pickman and men's basketball beat writer Thomas Valtin-Erwin break down how UW can overcome his absence. 

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

It took almost seven minutes for the Wisconsin Badgers to score its second field goal of the game. But after freshman guard Kobe King knocked down a pull-up jumper with just over 13 minutes to play in the first half of UW’s exhibition game against Northern Iowa Wednesday night, the Badgers offense started to click.

King led the Badgers with 15 points as Wisconsin handled the Panthers 69-38. And while the freshman guard from La Crosse appeared ready for the spotlight, he was far from alone. Wisconsin’s depth was on full display as it cruised to victory.

The Badgers got off to a slow start in the first half and trailed 10-2 after more than six minutes of action. Then, once King’s first jumper fell, the Badgers went on a 17-0 run to grab the lead.

They never looked back.

“We settled down. I could tell by looking at Van Vliet, Iverson and Pritzl on the bench before the starting lineups, you could they had the look like, ‘I’m starting my first game in the Kohl Center,” head coach Greg Gard said. “This is a big step for them to do that, so we made shots, we settled in and made some shots.”

Wisconsin, after a 33-8 run over the half’s final 13-plus minutes, led by 17 at the break.

The Panthers, though, would score the second half’s first seven points to quickly cut UW’s lead to ten. The Badgers answered, however, stretching their lead to 22 just over five minutes into the half on a layup by freshman guard Brad Davison.

Davison finished with only five points and two rebounds, but was a constant pest on the defense end in 19 minutes of play.

“Brad is just a natural born leader and he’ll do whatever it takes to win,” King said. “That’s something that we noticed from day one and even in Australia, taking charges, diving on the ground. We definitely feed off him. And even though he’s a young guy he definitely gets the attention of the older guys, and like I said he’s a great leader and a great guy to be around.”

A 27-3 run in the second half stretched UW’s lead to 34 as Gard continued to shuffle his lineup while UW cruised.

Happ, a preseason first team All-American, finished with nine points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes of action. While junior Khalil Iverson looked impressive in his 21 minutes of play as he tallied nine points, four rebounds and two assists.

Freshman forward Nate Reuvers, UW’s highest graded recruit in the 2017 class, didn’t check into the game until midway through the second half, but added six points and two rebounds in ten minutes of action as well.

11 players scored for the Badgers, but it was King who shined brightest off the bench in UW’s in preseason tune-up. When the freshman guard checked out of the game for the final time with just over five minutes to play, he received a loud ovation from the remaining Kohl Center crowd.

It wasn’t his first time playing on the Kohl Center floor, and it certainly won’t be the last time he ignites the Badgers’ offense either.

“I was pretty comfortable. But I think I can get better. I didn’t have any rebounds so that’s something I can work on. King said. “They’ll be plenty more chances.”

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