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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, June 24, 2024
Brad Davison

Brad Davison made only three field goals, but still led the Badgers with 18 points in their victory. 

Wisconsin wallops Illinois after recent road struggles

After a drubbing in West Lafayette, Ind., at the hands of then-No. 3 Purdue, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team (3-4 Big Ten, 10-10 overall) was desperate for a win — or at least a good all-around performance. The Badgers got both Friday night at the Kohl Center, smacking Illinois (0-7, 10-10) in the mouth in the second half to come away with a 75-50 victory.

The Badgers turned the ball over on three of their first four possessions, but redshirt sophomore guard Brevin Pritzl got the offense going with a contested three from the left corner followed quickly by a cutting layup. He gave UW a 7-6 lead that it wouldn’t look back from, never trailing for the rest of the game. With Pritzl finding his groove early, redshirt junior forward Ethan Happ’s presence on the offensive end wasn’t needed until midway through the first half, as he took his first field goal with 13:24 to go. Illinois quickly cut the lead down to three with 12:26 to go in the period, but freshman guard Brad Davison drilled a three of his own at the shot clock buzzer to push the lead back to seven.

Davison got off to a shaky start, as he was whistled for two offensive fouls in the first three minutes of the game, but he relentlessly found a lane to the basket, drawing five shooting fouls en route to a perfect 10-of-10 performance from the free throw line. He finished with a game-high 18 points on just three made field goals.

The Fighting Illini slowly cut the lead down to four, but as Happ began to draw his usual attention inside, he found a cutting Khalil Iverson under the basket for a dunk and soon after junior forward Alex Illikainen buried a three to give the Badgers a nine-point lead, their largest of the game to that point. The Badgers continued to connect on the offensive end and would go into the locker room with a comfortable 11-point lead thanks to eight consecutive made field goals during an 18-6 run late in the half.

In the second half, Happ repeatedly found Iverson under the basket, passing the ball adeptly out of double teams for easy baskets. That connection was the foundation of an offensive game plan that led the Badgers to a lights-out performance.

It was Iverson’s open baskets in the paint that pushed the Badger lead as high as 26, as well as the lights out defensive play of freshman forward Nate Reuvers. Reuvers recorded five blocks on the night, extending his team-leading figure to 23 for the year.

A 12-2 run in the middle of the second half extended the Badgers’ lead to 26, and they coasted through to the final buzzer. UW received exceptional balance on offense from its top contributors, as Pritzl, Happ, Davison and Iverson each scored in double figures. Redshirt junior forward Matt Ferris put a lid on the game with a tip in in the final minute.

As a team the Badgers shot 53.1 percent from the field, including 7-of-19 from downtown. Illinois, the Big Ten’s worst 3-point shooting team, made just 1-of-14 deep shots and struggled to consistently find the bottom of the basket in the second half.

Next up for Wisconsin is a trip to Iowa City, where the Hawkeyes will serve as a worthy adversary in preparation for a Jan. 26 date with No. 9 Michigan State.

Check back at dailycardinal.com/section/sports for complete coverage from UW’s blowout victory.

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