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Wisconsin basketball: Badgers roll to exhibition victory over UW-River Falls

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Wisconsin unleashed its young roster to game action at the Kohl Center for the first time on Wednesday.

MADISON -- Basketball returned to the Kohl Center Wednesday night as the No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers rolled to an exhibition victory over UW-River Falls, 101-46.

Finally with a chance to showcase himself in live action, the man, the myth, the legend Ethan Happ posted 16 points and 10 boards on 7-of-9 shooting in just 19 minutes to lead the Badgers.

The redshirt freshman led an impressive showing from his fellow rookie Badgers. Freshmen forwards Alex Illikainen and Charlie Thomas each finished with 12 points and seven boards, and freshman guard Khalil Iverson had four points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

As expected, forward Nigel Hayes had himself a strong showing, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Junior point guard Bronson Koenig added 10 points and hit two of four three-point field goals. Redshirt sophomore Riley Dearring scored 10 points, going 2-of-3 from distance to round out the Badgers' six double-figure scorers.

Wisconsin shot 54.5 percent on 36-of-66 shooting, including 45 percent (9-of-20) on three pointers.

The Division-III Falcons opened up hot, shooting 75 percent to jump out to a 10-8 lead. With 12:25 remaining in the first half, they only trailed 15-14.

From there, Wisconsin's shooting took over as it was business as expected for the Badgers.

Wisconsin was perfect from behind the arc in the first half, going 6-of-6 from three-point range as it finished the half on a 31-13 run for a lead of 46-27. Dearring hit both of his attempts from deep as Hayes, Koenig, junior Vitto Brown and Illikainen all drained three-pointers.

Happ nearly posted a double-double in the first half, entering intermission with nine points and seven rebounds. Hayes and Dearring came in next with eight points apiece as the Badgers shot 59.3 percent on 16-of-27 shooting.

Holding a 15-14 lead, the Badgers went on a 10-0 run in 2:36 behind consecutive threes by Illikainen and Hayes, a Happ two-pointer and consecutive free throws from Hayes.

That play carried over into the second half as Wisconsin outscored the Falcons 18-2 to open the period. In the second half, the rout was on as the Badgers dominated River Falls, 55-19.

Redshirt sophomore Aaron Moesch added eight points in six second-half minutes.

As expected, head coach Bo Ryan started a lineup featuring Koenig, Hayes, Happ, Brown and junior guard Zak Showalter.

Freshman forward Andy Van Vliet did not dress for the Badgers as his ineligibility case with the NCAA is pending. Prior to the game, Wisconsin announced it plans to appeal the ruling.

NCAA rules state that a player must enroll in a collegiate institution within one year of his high-school graduation. Van Vliet played as an amateur outside that allotted window, which is where the issue comes from.

Also out for the Badgers were freshman Brevin Pritzl and sophomore Matt Ferris. Pritzl continues to recover from surgery on his broken foot and Ferris is expected to redshirt.

Wisconsin opens up its regular-season schedule at the Kohl Center next Friday against Western Illinois.