Wisconsin cruises by South Carolina State in regular season opener

Ethan Happ was the most efficient Badger against Virginia, but he only took nine shots and struggled rebounding.

Image By: Sebastian van Bastelaer

Several Badgers set career-highs in a variety of categories Friday night as Wisconsin (1-0) methodically worked its way past South Carolina State (0-1) 85-50 to open the 2017-’18 season.

Things got off to a rocky start for a UW team that is prominently featuring several new faces. Redshirt sophomore forward Andy Van Vliet took a while to get going, opening the game with a near-immediate turnover on an entry pass to redshirt junior forward Ethan Happ before badly missing a 3-pointer on the next possession. But junior forward Khalil Iverson skied for an athletic offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice, who promptly found redshirt sophomore guard Brevin Pritzl for a wide-open triple.

None of those four were regular starters for the Badgers last year, but they were called on to join Happ in carrying the load for UW in the absence of several graduated veterans.

Van Vliet would quickly right the ship, burying a jumper midway through the first half. That sparked his confidence, and he would light up the Kohl Center in the second half with two more threes and a layup to guide him to 18 points — double his previous career-high — on 7-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-5 from deep.

Pritzl found a similar rhythm in his first start, tallying a career-high 17 points on 6-of-10 from the field. He also grabbed two steals and dished out two assists before halftime.

Trice, who started two games last year as Bronson Koenig nursed an injury, picked up right where he left off at the end of the Big Ten season. He quickly buried two threes and a third jump shot while handing out four assists in just 14 minutes of action. Trice would finish with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and registered five assists.

Happ, of course, was the rock for the Badgers all night, as he scored at will in the paint and finished with 20 points on 8-of-11 from the field. He also tabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, 10 of which came on the defensive end. As was the case all last year, though, he was stymied at the foul line, where he hit 4-of-9 free throws.

Freshman guard and summer superstar Brad Davison took just seconds to flash what his coaches have seen in him. He quickly snagged two steals and recorded two charges to keep the ball in the hands of the Badgers.

UW will waste no time in getting into the thick of its non-conference schedule after this tune-up game as it welcomes Yale to the Kohl Center Sunday at 5 p.m.

Check back later at Dailycardinal.com/section/sports for more coverage of Wisconsin’s blowout win.

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