The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (3-3) took care of business at home against in-state opponent UW-Milwaukee (4-2) last Friday in a blowout 71-49 victory.
The game was relative close for much of the first half, tied 21-21 with five minutes remaining in the period. But in the second half, the Badgers ran up the score quickly to widen the lead in what was ultimately a 22-point victory for Wisconsin.
Big Ten Freshman of the week Brad Davison starred in the matchup as the new starter led the team with a career high 19 points in just 22 minutes. Davison’s efficiency was phenomenal on the night, as the guard shot 7-8 from the field and 5-6 from 3 points.
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The freshman has become an integral part of Wisconsin’s lineup ever since his strong introduction against Xavier two weeks ago. While in their first few games names like Khalil Iverson and Andy Van Vliet were seen at the top of the box score, Davison is cementing himself as the clear second scoring option to Ethan Happ.
On that note, Happ carried the offensive load once again for the Badgers on 7-12 shooting for 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists. But this performance did not come without struggles as Happ had four turnovers and could not convert on his limited jump shot attempts.
Happ and the rest of the Badgers have been working on starting each half with solid play. Happ believes that one of the team’s biggest weaknesses is that they allow opponents to pull ahead early on in the half, forcing Wisconsin to continually try and play catch-up.
“It is big every game to start each half well to set the tone,” Happ said. “We try to get stops all in a row. We didn’t do it in Kansas City. When teams get momentum coming out of halftime they are hard to stop.”
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While perimeter shooting is clearly not yet a tool in Happ’s arsenal, he has already shot outside four times this year, which is four more times than he has in any previous season. Happ has also struggled from the line; while he only shot once from the charity spot in this game his free throw percentage is an abysmal 56 percent on the year.
If Happ wants to legitimately compete for national player of the year during his tenure with the Badgers, these are areas of the game that he will need to improve.
Wisconsin will look to use this win as a stepping stone for defeating more challenging foes like their next opponent, the No.18 ranked Virginia Cavaliers. The Badgers need this contest to rally back and create positive momentum for the remainder of the season, especially if they don’t want to constantly be playing catch-up with other teams.