In the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team’s disappointing 18-point Feb. 5 loss at the hands of archrival Minnesota, there were a lot of questions surrounding the play of the team, specifically junior guard Brad Davison.
In Wisconsin’s three-game losing streak, Davison struggled mightily, averaging 4.6 points and shooting a miserable 4-for-19 from the field during that stretch. Though Davison endured midseason struggles, it looks as though he has once again found his rhythm, to the delight of Badger fans.
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After the three-game losing streak, Wisconsin has bounced back nicely. The Badgers are winners of four straight and Davison’s play is a key reason behind their success. During the stretch, Davison’s scoring is way up, averaging 15.5 points per game and doing so efficiently with a shooting percentage of 50% from the field and a scorching 56% from beyond the 3-point line.
Following a 30-point outburst in which he hit eight 3-pointers, Davison has stayed hot, helping the Badgers get back on track. With improved shooting and confidence, Davison’s improved play could be a sign of things to come.
Davison’s stellar play can also be attributed to increased aggression on the offensive end. Following his season-high 30 points, Davison credited his scoring to a changed mindset in a recent article from the Wisconsin State Journal.
“I came in with the mindset that I was going to be aggressive today,” Davison said. “I think there have been quite a few games this year where I’ve let the game come to me a little bit too much. I haven’t been assertive as I probably should have been, as the team needs me to be.”
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Davison getting hot from the 3-point line is beneficial for Wisconsin going into the NCAA Tournament. Davison’s shot-making ability will be pivotal in stopping momentum and halting opposing teams’ runs.
For example, in Sunday’s 79–71 win against Rutgers, Wisconsin held a double-digit lead for most of the game, but suddenly the Scarlet Knights began crawling back. With just under seven minutes to play, Rutgers closed the gap on what was a 16-point lead down to seven.
On the Badgers’ next possession, Davison caught the ball on the right-wing and with a hand in his face, buried a contested 3-pointer to extend Wisconsin’s lead back to double digits. Davison’s ability to hit difficult shots is beneficial to Wisconsin late in games and can help the team end lengthy scoring droughts.
Davison’s hot shooting is a big boost, especially for a Badger team that has struggled at times to generate consistent offensive, averaging just 66.9 points per game, a number which ranks 289th in the country. Stepping into a bigger role, Davison can now be the guy the Badgers can turn to on possessions that go down to the end of the shot clock.
Another reason why Davison has been so valuable in this stretch is his consistency from the free-throw line. Davison is stoic compared to most other college players, as nothing seems to fluster him in late-game situations.
In Wisconsin’s narrow 69–65 win over Purdue, Davison and company went 19-for-20 from the foul line, never giving the Boilermakers an opening. In the final minute, Davison’s four clutch free throws were pivotal in a marquee win. In the win against Rutgers, Davison’s free throw shooting was again on display, shooting 6-for-8 from the free-throw line.
When every game in the NCAA Tournament seems to go down to the wire, Davison’s foul shooting could be a major weapon down the stretch. As a team, Wisconsin ranks 19th in the country and first in the Big Ten with 76.8% free throw percentage. Davison alone shoots at a staggering 88.3% clip.
If Wisconsin has the lead late, look for Davison to demand the ball, as he is their best chance to seal the game. Along with his gritty mindset and tremendous leadership qualities, Badger fans should feel comfortable if the fate of the game is in Davison’s hands.
Though Davison has gone through ups and downs in his junior season, Wisconsin will need him to continue his impressive play if they wish to make noise come tournament time.
With the 2019-20 season being his third year as a starter, it seems Davison is ready to shoulder the load for the Badgers in the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.