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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Without many proven scorers, the Badgers must rely on its defense to create easy buckets on offense. 

Defending the three point line key for the Badgers against McNeese State

After two record setting games, all eyes are on junior forward Nate Reuvers as the Badgers enter their third game of the season against McNeese State Wednesday night. Last week, Wisconsin (1-1) defeated Eastern Illinois at home after a huge showing from Reuvers, who recorded his second career double-double consisting of 14 points, a season-high 14 rebounds, and nine blocks, which tied the school record. Reuvers’ performance earned him his first career Big Ten Player of the Week accolade, and improved his average to 18 points, 10 points, and 6.5 blocks a game thus far. In the game prior against St. Mary’s, Reuvers scored a career high of 22 points while also securing six rebounds and four blocks. 

However, Reuvers is not the only Badger on the rise. Against Eastern Illinois, sophomore guard Kobe King put up 18 points, which included the highlight of the night, an explosive one-handed slam from the baseline. Moving forward, both Reuvers and King have demonstrated they have the ability to make big time plays, which will be necessary for an easy win over McNeese State before they face in-state rival Marquette on Sunday.  

Looking at McNeese State, after falling 0-2 on the road, the Cowboys improved to 1-2 as they took down Southern University at New Orleans with ease during their home opener 104-33. McNeese State was led by junior guard Dru Kuxhausen with 23 points, followed closely by junior guard Same Baker with 21 points. Kuxhausen began his college career at Western Nebraska, where he averaged 19 points his sophomore season. Coming to McNeese State, Kuxhausen has revealed his capability to connect on offense after he posted 10 points against Western Michigan, and then 18 points against Louisiana. Last season, Kuxhausen was a major threat from behind the arc as he finished the season connecting on 51 percent of his 3-point shots, and was ranked No. 5 in the nation for knocking down 119-234 threes. 

As for Baker, his performance against SUNO proved to be a breakout for him considering he had only tallied 3 points for the season before the game. Baker is also a transfer student who competed at North Dakota State College his freshman year and then Northwest Florida College as a sophomore. While at ND State, Baker averaged around 20 points a game, but at NW Florida he averaged only 3 points a game. 

Another prominent offensive leader for the Cowboys is redshirt junior guard A.J. Lawson who led McNeese State during its first game of the season against Western Michigan, scoring 21 points. Lawson recorded double figure scoring again in the Cowboy’s last two games, putting up 14 and 12, respectively. 

In preparation for the matchup against McNeese State, there are a couple areas Wisconsin must be aware of when it comes to the Cowboys. First, McNeese State shoots the deep ball well. Against the Knights, the Cowboys went 19-30 from behind the arc, setting a new school record for three-pointers made. That is more threes made than the Badger’s exhibition and first two games combined. Secondly, its offense does not derive from a single player, instead there are 4 or 5 players who can achieve double-figures. However, the two most prominent sharp shooters are Kuxhausen and Baker who combined for 14 made threes against SUNO. 

One area Wisconsin can capitalize on though is turnovers. The Cowboys are currently averaging around 16 turnovers a game, so applying pressure to the ball handlers is pertinent for the Badgers. Additionally, a majority of the Cowboy’s offensive will be stalled if the Badgers can shut down Kuxhausen and Baker. 

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Kohl Center. 

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