Wisconsin hammered Green Bay 81-60 on Saturday at the Kohl Center in a game that was never in doubt. The Badgers won their second consecutive game and improved their record to 6-7.
Here are three things we learned from the Badgers’ performance:
One of the reasons Wisconsin has played inconsistent basketball for stretches during the first nearly two months of this season was that the Badgers could rely only on Ethan Happ and Brad Davison every game. But Wisconsin’s victory against Green Bay demonstrated that each rotation player brings something that adds value.
Happ and Davison produced typically strong games. Happ tallied 14 points and 8 rebounds and only needed to play 22 minutes. Davison scored 18 points. Yet to see what Khalil Iverson, Brevin Pritzl, Aleem Ford and Nate Reuvers did shows the Badgers could be improving at the right time.
Pritzl made only 2 of 8 field goals. But he was able to impact the game in other ways. He recorded 4 assists and 7 rebounds. Ford scored 9 points and made both of his 3-point attempts. He is shooting 44.4 percent (16 for 36) from long range this season and can cause matchup problems with his ability to stretch the floor. Iverson tallied 12 points and went 5 of 5 from the field. And Reuvers finished with 9 points and had a nice sequence in which he dunked over a defender and then blocked a shot at the other end.
Not everyone has to score as long as each player fulfills a role for Wisconsin. The more the Badgers can execute in that area, the better they’ll be as Big Ten play begins again in January.
Wisconsin coaches opted to burn freshman guard Walt McGrory’s redshirt in the team’s previous game against Western Kentucky. That move came out of necessity given the injuries to guards Kobe King and D’Mitrik Trice. McGrory played only 2 minutes in his debut, but it was only a matter of time before he earned more opportunity.
On Saturday against Green Bay, McGrory played 21 minutes, which included plenty of time as Wisconsin’s point guard to spell Davison. McGrory finished with 4 points, 1 assist and 6 rebounds. But the experience he earned is invaluable for both McGrory and Wisconsin. The Badgers are going to need to rely on guards off the bench. Right now, the only two players coach Greg Gard can use are McGrory and T.J. Schlundt. Expect to see more of McGrory, who was largely impressive, in the foreseeable future.
An aggressive Iverson is such a difference-maker for Wisconsin. The problem this season has been that he doesn’t always show that side in every game. Iverson was held scoreless in games against South Carolina State, Virginia and Ohio State. But he also has produced games of 17 points against Yale and 16 points against Penn State.
Iverson’s strength is scoring and athleticism around the basket. He made all five of his field goal attempts against Green Bay and scored 12 points. There is a reason Iverson is shooting the best field-goal percentage among Wisconsin’s regular rotation players. This season, he is connecting on 58.5 percent of his shots, including 67.2 percent from inside the 3-point line.
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