Badgers ride record-breaking first half to dominant win against overmatched Savannah State
Sophomore Brad Davison continued his hot shooting of late, hitting all three of his three pointers and scoring 14 points on nine shots in the win.Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger
Facing an opponent that entered the Kohl Center with the nation’s worst scoring defense and had just been gashed for 139 points in its last game, Wisconsin’s Thursday-night matchup with Savannah State looked to be a chance for the Badgers to flex their offensive muscles.
It proved to be exactly that, as No. 16 Wisconsin (2-0 Big Ten, 8-2 overall) took down the Tigers (0-0 MEAC, 3-9) 101-60, on the back of a record-breaking first-half performance.
Senior forward Ethan Happ opened the game’s scoring by banking in a free throw, and that bit of shooting luck proved suspicious. The Badgers poured on 15 points in a span of just over two minutes after Happ’s trip to the line to jump out to an early double-digit lead, and had 33 by the second media timeout.
Faced with a significant height disadvantage and just eight players in uniform for the game, Savannah State quickly packed into a zone defense that Wisconsin carved up from the inside and beyond the arc.
Sophomore guard Brad Davison broke out of his shooting slump, hitting five of six threes en route to a team-leading 19 points at the half.
Guard Tai Strickland did his best to energize the unusually sparse Kohl Center crowd. The freshman nailed two threes in his first minute on the court, including a deep straightaway three that banked in to the crowd’s delight.
The only suspense of the first half came in the closing minute, as the Badgers got within a point of the program record for scoring in a half before stalling out. Davison’s fifth three put them over the limit, and Wisconsin went into the break leading 69-32.
Wisconsin slowed the game down after the half, playing deliberately on offense as it slowly built the lead. After a record-tying 11 threes in the first half, the Badgers hit just five in the second on 18 attempts.
Strickland was one of the surprises of the game, scoring a career-high 14 points and commanding the offense with sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice on the bench.
Gard kept his starters in even as the game become a slaughter; Happ and Trice were still on the court when fans started to file out at the under-eight media timeout with the Badgers up 38.
The slow pace cooled Wisconsin’s offense significantly after the explosive first half, but it wasn’t enough to stop it from breaking the 100-point barrier for the first time in five years with 21 seconds remaining.
Wisconsin got over the century mark on a three from sophomore guard Walt McGrory that elicited the biggest cheer of the night from the remaining crowd.
Five Badgers — Davison, Happ, Strickland, Trice and sophomore guard Kobe King — scored in double figures and the team shot 56.1 percent from the field as a whole.
Davison finished with a game-high 24 points in 28 minutes
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