In a tune-up game following a trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational and two days prior to a showdown with Syracuse at the Kohl Center, the Wisconsin Badgers routed Prairie View A&M on Sunday at the Kohl Center 95-50.
Led by forward Nigel Hayes’s 17 points, six Badgers scored in double figures to pace a fluid and efficient offensive performance. No. 16 Wisconsin pulled out to a 47-27 lead at halftime and kept the foot on the gas pedal the rest of the way.
Here are three things we learned:
The Badgers looked sharp with an important game looming
Wisconsin last played on Wednesday in the Maui Invitational championship game, when North Carolina was clearly the superior team and the Badgers struggled offensively. For head coach Greg Gard’s side, Sunday’s contest was a good opportunity to get back on the court rather than take a week off between games.
The Badgers scored 1.397 points per possession, per the team’s official StatBroadcast numbers, while shooting 33-of-59 (55 percent) from the field and hitting 20 of 27 free throws. Led by forward Ethan Happ’s five, Wisconsin grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and scored 19 second-chance points.
The bench also added 39 points, with guards D’Mitrik Trice and Khalil Iverson scoring 10 points each.
Iverson is making a strong case for playing time
After being one of the few impressive Badgers against the Tar Heels, Iverson logged 23 minutes on Sunday, scored 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting and added five rebounds, a block and a steal. Iverson provides a spark off the bench with his athleticism, defense and ability to finish around the rim. The sophomore is 15-of-20 on two-pointers this season, throwing down more than a handful of dunks.
After starting the season 4-of-18 from three-point range, guard Zak Showalter hit three of his five triple attempts against Prairie View A&M, but played fewer minutes than Iverson. The two often share minutes, and an increase in playing time for Iverson could take away Showalter’s minutes.
Wisconsin is making it Happ-en
It was an offseason filled with preseason watch lists and recognition for Happ, but he was not used highly in the Badgers’ first two-plus games. Wisconsin got the redshirt sophomore going in the second half of the season’s third game against Chicago State and he is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds over four games since. Happ scored 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds on Sunday, going 5-of-8 from the field and hitting both of his free throws.
Some of Happ’s work over his impressive stretch has come against the zone, which Syracuse will feature at length. Against Creighton and Central Arkansas, the Badgers struggled to utilize Happ against a zone defense, but they seem to getting back on track.
Last season’s overtime win over the Orange on the road was Happ’s breakout game as he scored 18 points and had 15 rebounds. Will there be more of that on Tuesday?