Andy Van Vliet has spent the majority of the 2017-’18 season playing on Wisconsin’s practice scout team. He’s battled Ethan Happ, Aleem Ford and Nate Reuvers on both ends of the floor and waited for his opportunity to shine.
Van Vliet, who started UW’s (7-10 Big Ten, 14-16 overall) first four games of the season but was quickly relegated to the end of the bench, provided a crucial first-half boost in the Badgers’ 70-64 win over Northwestern (6-11, 15-15) Thursday night. The 7-foot forward took full advantage of his career-high 24 minutes and finished with 14 points as Wisconsin’s depth helped the Badgers emerge victorious.
In early February when UW squared off against NU, the Wildcats jumped out to an 18-1 lead just minutes into the game. Thursday night, it was the Badgers that led by 11 points just over nine minutes into the contest.
A hot start by Wisconsin forced Northwestern out of its 2-3 zone. And on that end of the floor, NU’s offense, without redshirt junior forward Vic Law, never seemed to click.
The Badgers, in large part due to Van Vliet’s 11 first half points, led by six points at halftime, 38-32. They went into the locker after shooting 60.9 percent from the field and 50 percent from three.
And in the second half, while UW’s failed to operate at the same clip, Happ, redshirt sophomore Brevin Pritzl and junior forward Khalil Iverson continued to anchor Wisconsin on both ends of the floor.
Northwestern led for fewer than three minutes in the second half, but with 1:01 to go in the game, Scottie Lindsey knocked down a perimeter jumper to cut the Badgers’ lead to only one.
But a three by Pritzl and two free throws by Iverson after a missed 3-pointer by Lindsey stretched Wisconsin’s lead back to six.
Happ finished with a team-high 19 points and seven rebounds as Iverson added 16 points and six boards.
Lindsey led the Wildcats with a game-high 26 points, but it was not enough for NU to prevail on Senior Night.
Instead, the Badgers’ depth reigned supreme as UW won its third straight game.