The No. 7 University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (2-0) made quick work of Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-2) Friday night at the Kohl Center behind a dominant first half.
Suffocating team defense, buckets inside from forwards Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter, and efficient shooting from beyond the arc paced the Badgers in a first half that saw the team’s lead expand from 25–0 to 53–19 before the break.
Potter’s game-high 19 points led a Badgers squad that saw 11 players tally points and 14 players get playing time. Usual suspects Reuvers, Aleem Ford and D’Mitrik Trice joined Potter in double figures. For a veteran, senior-laden Wisconsin team that tends to play comfortably within Head Coach Greg Gard’s patient, conservative system, 92 points scored on the night is certainly a pleasant surprise. Even if APB doesn’t represent the top brass in college basketball.
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The most encouraging part of the Badgers’ Friday night win were quality minutes and reps for a young Badger bench that will need to be confident heading into stiffer competition come December.
Touted freshmen Jonathan Davis and Ben Carlson followed their impressive Badgers debuts against Eastern Illinois with more positive contributions off of the bench. Davis’ performance nearly earned him a double-double, scoring nine points and snagging eight rebounds.
Sophomore Tyler Wahl resumed his duties as sixth man adding five points and a 3-pointer that will hopefully get him going from deep this season.
Despite Wisconsin’s dominance on the scoreboard Friday night, the Golden Lions played the Badgers tough in the second half. Failing to build on that massive halftime lead, the second half resulted in a 39–39 tie.
Though not alarming, this is noteworthy because Eastern Illinois outscored the Badgers by 13 points in the second half Wednesday night. It’s only two games, but this cannot become a trend for a Badgers team that will likely play a lot of close games come Big Ten play.
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That being said, you have to nitpick in games like this, and the Badgers’ second half performance is prime for criticsm. After all, the Badgers utilized 14 of their 17 rostered players in the win.
Gard will be thrilled if he gets an opportunity to go that deep into his bench a second time this season, because the chances the opportunity arises again are low.
Next up, the Badgers take on the Green Bay Phoenix (0-1) at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Kohl Center. Tuesday’s affair will be the second game for Green Bay in 2020. The Phoenix suffered a 30-point defeat at Minnesota Wednesday night.