Wisconsin stomps Houston Baptist in a 96-59 victory to stay unbeaten

Junior guard Brevin Pritzl pitched in with 8 points off the bench to help Wisconsin beat Nebraska Tuesday night.

Image By: Brandon Moe

Fresh off a huge road win over Xavier, Wisconsin returned home hoping to avoid a letdown against their Southland Conference opponent the Houston Baptist Huskies. From the tip, it was apparent that an upset was not in the making.

Senior forward Ethan Happ continued his hot start to the year, scoring 15 points in Wisconsin’s 96-59 victory in the first ever meeting between the two teams. The veteran center also added 12 rebounds and six assists to complete an impeccable week, having scored 30 points on Tuesday. Junior guard Brevin Pritzl scored 17 points to lead the Badgers, sophomore forward Nate Reuvers added 15 points and sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice continued his hot shooting streak, knocking down three more three-pointers.

The Badgers put together perhaps their most complete performance on the year, scoring their highest regular-season point total since 2013. UW got out to a 30-11 lead in the first 10 minutes, and Happ converted his first six field goal attempts. They established their dominance in the low post early, scoring 16 of their first 24 points in the paint and led 50-24 at the half. These high-percentage shots enabled them to shoot 67 percent from the field in the first half, and they finished over 60 percent on the night.

Happ became the all-time record holder for career rebounds in the first half, eliciting a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 17,095. The Illinois native surpassed Claude Gregory, who compiled 904 boards from 1978-1981, in the record books. While he is in the top 15 in program history in points, field goals, assists, blocks, field-goal percentage, steals and games started, this is the first major statistic for which he is the record holder.

“It’s special to set yourself apart in such a storied school like Wisconsin,” Happ said.

“He’s a unique type of player,” HBU head coach Ron Cottrell added. “He’s so fundamentally sound. He’s just a smart, solid basketball player who understands how to play the game so well.”

In the 77-68 victory over Xavier, only five Badgers scored, and 71 of their points came from only three players. On Saturday, they showed much more balance. Ten players scored in the contest for UW, including sophomore guard Trevor Anderson, who scored his first career points in a Badgers uniform.

“We know that we have a lot of legitimate options that can do a lot offensively,” Happ said.

Wisconsin did commit a season-high 10 turnovers. They also appeared to take their foot off the gas after the first half, only winning the second-half scoring battle by a score of 46-35. This inconsistency was also a slight issue in the team’s first two home games (victories in the exhibition against UW-Oshkosh and the season opener against Coppin State).

“There’s always things we can find [to improve upon] on the ball and off the ball,” head coach Greg Gard said “There’s areas where we need to clean up and be more consistent. I think obviously valuing the ball, taking care of the ball.”

For the Huskies, fresh off a victory over Fordham, it was a frustrating game from the start. Sophomore guard Ian DuBose paced the team with a game-high 18 points.

“I didn’t feel like we competed,” Cottrell said. “They got our guys on our heels right from the very beginning.”

The Badgers take to the road next, heading to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis for Thanksgiving. They will play the Stanford Cardinal at 1:30 p.m. Central Time Wednesday before taking on either Florida or Oklahoma Thursday and an opponent to be determined on Friday. 

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