Davison, King cap preseason with stellar performance against Wisconsin-Stout

Freshman guard Brad Davison led the Badgers with 19 points in its win over Milwaukee. 

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Freshman Brad Davison couldn’t stop smiling at the post-game dais after Wisconsin’s 85-56 exhibition victory over UW-Stout. His euphoria remained present when he walked off the podium in his red Wisconsin sweat-jacket and khaki pants, almost forgetting his backpack in the process, as he thanked the reporters in front of him before exiting the interview room.

Davison has now played eight games in a Badger uniform. Through UW’s preseason, he has at times led Wisconsin in scoring, assists and plus-minus. He has played tenacious defense and been a pest to opposing teams. Sunday night, he even started at point guard.

But almost nothing that Davison has done up to this point will be remembered once the Badgers open their regular season later this week against South Carolina State. Still, Davison and fellow freshman guard Kobe King’s performances throughout the preseason leave plenty of room for optimism.

Starting for sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice who missed Wisconsin’s final tune-up with an ankle injury he sustained at a recent practice, Davison finished with 13 points and two assists in 23 minutes of play. King, who also played some point guard late for the Badgers, led UW with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting in a team-high 24 minutes.

“Kobe has been very opportunistic,” head coach Greg Gard said. “He’s taken advantage of what the defense has given him. For the most part he hasn’t forced things.”

Gard added that King can score from a variety of places: From behind the arc, from midrange, by the rim and from the free throw line. Sunday evening, King led the Badgers with six free throw attempts while Davison was second on the team with five.

“Both [King] and Brad are not your typical freshman from a physical standpoint and they’ve bought in with every thing we’ve talked about. They’ve worked at it from Day 1,” Gard said. “They want to be good. They love being at the University of Wisconsin and they love playing for the Badgers.”

After scoring on four of its first five possessions to open the game Sunday night, Wisconsin quickly had a 12-3 advantage. The Blue Devils would cut the deficit to just five points with 11 minutes remaining in the half, but would never get any closer.

Coming out of the halftime locker room up 13 points, Wisconsin’s defense stiffened as it allowed only eight points through the periods’ first ten minutes. All the while, the Badgers’ offense started to click as an 8-0 run midway through the period helped UW extend its lead to 26 and allowed Gard to cycle through various lineup combinations.

Redshirt junior forward Ethan Happ did not register an official field goal Sunday night and finished with only two points and four rebounds in 22 minutes of play. Happ, the lone returning double-digit scorer from last year’s team, however, frequently looked for open teammates from the low-block position.

King and Davison certainly were some of the beneficiaries.

“He just opens up the floor for everyone,” Davison said. “He’s a lot of fun to play with. He’s very unselfish. That’s both offensively and defensively. He leads by example in everything that he does. It’s really nice especially for a point guard, he can bring it up sometimes if you’re tired and need a break. So it’s a huge asset to have and we’re very fortunate to have him here.”

Happ said on media day in early October how impressed he was with Davison and King’s transition up to that point. However, the two freshman guards will not be defined by how they’ve played in the preseason. They both agreed that saying they are eager for games to start counting is an understatement. Gard has high expectations for them as well.

“Now it starts counting for real,” Gard said. “The exhibitions are over and Friday night here we go.”

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