Wednesday’s Wisconsin-Stanford game took place in the Bahamas, but it might as well have been in the Bermuda Triangle.
The No. 25 Badgers went 39 minutes without making a three-pointer or receiving a single bench point, and sophomore forward Nate Reuvers tied a school record for blocks while flirting with a double-double in points and rejections as Wisconsin (0-0 Big Ten, 4-0 overall) triumphed 62-46 over Stanford (0-0 Pac-12, 2-2 overall) in one of the most bizarre games in recent memory.
Sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice scored 16 points, senior forward Ethan Happ matched him while securing another double-double with 12 rebounds and Reuvers blocked nine shots in the opener for the Battle 4 Atlantis. KZ Okpala led Stanford with 11 points and was the only Cardinal player to reach double-digits.
The Badgers shot 50 percent in the first half but only led by four points at the break after committing nine turnovers. Wisconsin’s 28 first-half points came on 14 made baskets without a single made free throw or three-pointer in the first 20 minutes.
Stanford went on a 7-0 run midway through the second half, eventually cutting the lead to 44-42 before UW answered with its own 9-0 run. The Cardinal converted only 27 percent of its field goals and hit just two of 18 three-point shots.
The three-point shooting, or lack thereof, was a theme throughout the game. The two teams combined to go three-for-26 beyond the arc. Wisconsin’s only made attempt from three-point range came with 33 seconds left in the game as sophomore guard Kobe King knocked one down. King’s triple also comprised the entirety of Wisconsin’s bench points as the five starters combined for 59 points. It would have been the first time since a 1997 victory over Northwestern that the Badgers didn’t make a three.
Reuvers tied the all-time single-game program blocks record. Brad Sellers also blocked nine shots against Toledo in 1982.
Stanford was content to allow Happ to operate inside in order to constrain his ability to distribute the ball. They often refused to double-team the big man. He made them pay for their intransigence early on, scoring 10 points in the first half. Yet he contributed only six in the second half, fouling out with two minutes and 41 seconds left to play.
The Badgers will take on Oklahoma, which beat Florida in the early game, in the semifinals tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. Central Time. Wisconsin won the last meeting between the two teams — a December 2016 matchup at the Kohl Center — by a score of 90-70.