After falling short in a comeback attempt against Baylor on Monday evening, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team is going to have to rally quickly and prepare for a consolation match against UCLA on Tuesday night in Kansas City.
Wisconsin struggled early on against the Bears, finding themselves down by 19 points at one point during the game. While the Badgers would get close to closing the gap they would be unable to earn a victory, falling 65-70 by the end of the game.
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The Badgers were led in scoring and rebounding by Ethan Happ once again, who had 23 points and 13 rebounds on 11 of 19 shooting. However, it was not enough for Wisconsin, as the team shot only 39 percent overall and 33 percent from 3.
Baylor also shot 39 percent from the field, but made 46 percent of their threes, which likely made the difference in what was only a 5 point loss. The Bears were led in scoring by guard Manu Lecomte, who had 24 points, 13 of which came off of free throws.
Their next opponent, UCLA, is coming off a loss on the other side of the bracket to Creighton, who will be playing Baylor in the Hall of Fame Classic Championship Game. UCLA was taken down on Monday by Creighton 100-89, which was already their second game of the season giving up 100 points.
Their matchup against Wisconsin is likely to be a much slower and lower scoring game than UW is used to. The Badgers have not given up more than 80 points this year, which is atypical for Wisconsin basketball, to a very tough offensive Xavier team with elite perimeter shooting.
The Badgers will look to slow down the pace and make the UCLA Bruins play a style of basketball they are not as familiar with. Unfortunately for UCLA, three of their top players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill are suspended indefinitely due to their actions abroad in China.
They were caught shoplifting at a store near the team hotel and spent a brief period in jail before being released on bail. They will be unable to play on Monday night and for the foreseeable future. This is a big blow for UCLA, who had been coming into the season expecting this trio to be a major part of their rotation.
For the Badgers, in addition to their leader in scoring, rebounding, and assists in Ethan Happ, they will be bringing to the table perimeter scorers Brevin Pritzl and D’Mitrik Trice, as well as tough as nails defender Brad Davison, who has become a major part of coach Gard’s rotation as just a freshmen. He has played significant minutes down the stretch in each of the Badgers last two games against ranked opponents and expect him to be closing out this game again against #23 ranked UCLA.
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This will be yet another challenge for the Badgers and a good chance for the Badgers to prove themselves against top-tier competition after having fallen short their first two attempts. The game will be available to watch at 6:30 Central Time on ESPN3 on Tuesday night.
After that game against UCLA, the Badgers will go back to Madison on Friday evening to take on in-state rivals UW-Milwaukee. These teams last played in 2015, where the Badgers lost to Milwaukee in one of their few losses ever in the series. They went without playing last season for the first time in 25 seasons, but they will be back at it on Friday night at the Kohl Center at 8 p.m.