It was smooth sailing for the Wisconsin men’s basketball team Tuesday night at the Kohl Center, where UW defeated North Dakota 78-64.
Wisconsin (2-1) never trailed and held a lead for all but 52 seconds throughout the game. At one point, that lead reached a 26-point margin.
All five UW starters scored in double figures. Ethan Happ and Bronson Koenig led the way with 17 points apiece. Vitto Brown added 12 points, and Nigel Hayes and Zak Showalter added 11 and 10, respectively.
Here’s a breakdown of the Badgers’ second-straight win:
When you knew it was over
No offense to North Dakota, but this thing was done from the first couple of minutes. Wisconsin jumped out to a 7-0 lead and not even ice cold shooting during the first half could get North Dakota back into the game.
Wisconsin player of the game: Ethan Happ
Happ’s first two outings for the Badgers saw him getting limited playing time because of foul trouble and not much offensive contribution. That changed Tuesday night when Happ stayed in the game by limiting his fouls (only one in the first half). By halftime, the redshirt freshman had 11 points and six rebounds. He finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, with seven boards coming on the offensive glass.
North Dakota player of the game: Geno Crandall
Crandall managed only three points in the first half, but turned up the heat from downtown in the second half. In the final 20 minutes, Crandall was 5-for-5 from three-point range and finished the game 6-for-6, making just as many threes as the entire Wisconsin team.
Crandall finished with a game-high 19 points and added five rebounds in just 22 minutes of action.
Play of the game: Happ goes behind-the-back
With 10:29 remaining in the first half, freshman Charlie Thomas got his hands on a loose ball. Happ came up with it from the floor and started cruising up the court, not dribbling out of control. When he approached the three-point line, Happ weaved the ball around his torso, faking out the North Dakota defender with a behind-the-back move that brought “oooohs” and “aaahhhss” from the Kohl Center crowd.
Now with a clear path to the basket, Happ rose high above the rim and threw down a tomahawk jam to put the Badgers up 21-11.
- When UW head coach Bo Ryan emptied the UW bench in the game’s final minutes, freshman Brevin Pritzl didn’t enter the game. That’s because after playing four minutes in Sunday’s win over Siena, Pritzl told the coaching staff the foot he broke in August wasn’t feeling well.
- North Dakota was the team Frank Kaminsky scored his school-record 43 points against just less than two years ago (Nov. 19, 2013).
- Nigel Hayes may not be scoring the ball very well right now (he was 1-for-8 from the field Tuesday), but he has 15 assists and no turnovers through the season’s first three games.
Zak Showalter on Andy Van Vliet having to sit out 2015-16:
“It’s just a bummer. He’s going to have to take it, do the best he can to prepare for next year and get a lot better. He’s got a big frame so he’s going to put on some weight, but he’s just got to stay positive. I know it’s frustrating to hear, but he’ll do the best he can.”
Ethan Happ on scoring off putbacks:
“I don’t see myself as a garbage bucket man. I see those types of guys in high school, but I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team win. I don’t care if I score two points or if I score 17 points. It really doesn’t matter to me what I contribute as long as our team wins.”
Bo Ryan on Nigel Hayes’ turnover-to-assist ratio:
“How could you not like that? They’d have to lock me up if I said I didn’t like that.”