MADISON — Khalil Iverson did not score in the Wisconsin Badgers’ season-opening win vs. South Carolina State on Friday night. In fact, he did not even attempt a shot in 22 minutes of play.
That wasn’t the case on Sunday, as the junior started scoring early and often with a game-high 17 points in Wisconsin’s 89–61 win over the Yale Bulldogs at the Kohl Center.
Iverson connected on eight of nine shots, including a thunderous dunk early the first half.
“I mean, the first game, I know I didn’t shoot the ball a single time but it wasn’t intentional or anything,” Iverson said. “Next game, I was just going with the flow and got out in transition a couple of times and people found me.”
Though Iverson recorded a career-high in points, he was also tasked with guarding Yale sophomore guard Miye Oni, who only scored nine points on 3-of-10 shooting.
“Terrific job. I thought he really accepted the challenge,” Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard said. “Khalil didn’t shoot on Friday and had some turnovers, and I think it’s the anniversary of his father’s passing this past week, and that weighed on him on Friday. I could tell, so I thought today he was his old self and rightfully so. I know that’s a very difficult time having gone through that myself, and I’m 20-plus years older than him. I thought he was really energized from the start.”
With AUTHORITY!— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) November 13, 2017
Pretty up-and-under @iverson_khalil showcased the offensive repertoire tonight. Which is your favorite play? pic.twitter.com/Txg1oBlTIf
For the game, Wisconsin (2–0) hit on 31 of its 61 shots (50.8 percent) but only connected on seven of 22 three-point attempts. UW did hold Yale (0–2) to 22-of-51 (43.1 percent) shooting for the game.
“I told the team I was really proud of how they handled the last 24 hours to be able to, with such an inexperienced group, to have a one-day turnaround from Friday night, put a game plan together which involved guarding a lot of ball screens and negating three-point opportunities on those type of ball screens,” Gard said. “I thought that they did a terrific job of implementing that and executing it for the most part. We got leaky at times, but really proud of how they responded and listened and worked yesterday in practice to make sure that we could have some success with what we were going to do tonight.”
Four Badgers scored in double-figures. Junior forward Ethan Happ recorded another double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Junior forward Andy Van Vliet ended the game with 13 points on 3-of-9 shooting, but connected on five of seven free-throw attempts.
Sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice contributed 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting, connecting on both three-point attempts.
Forward Blake Reynolds scored a team-high 14 points and added six rebounds for Yale, a team missing two of its better players in senior guard Makai Mason and sophomore forward Jordan Bruner.
Wisconsin jumped out to a 43–22 halftime lead on 46.9 percent (15-of-32) shooting from the field. Yale connected on only eight of 24 attempts and was out-rebounded 22–13, committing eight turnovers. There were a few stretches for the Bulldogs where they went cold.
The Badgers also outscored the Bulldogs 24–12 in the paint and 9–0 on second-chance points.
Iverson led the scoring with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first 20 minutes, with Happ adding four points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Brevin Pritzl added a solid six points and five rebounds, while forwards Vliet and Aleem Ford registered five points apiece.
Despite Wisconsin going up 54–27 with 16:26 left in the game, Yale did not quit and went on a 15–5 run in just about 4:38 to pull within 17 points.
The Badgers kicked it up a notch, however, with a 9–0 run in just under two minutes to extend the lead to over 20 points.
Van Vliet then hit six points in a row, including a three-pointer toward the end of the shot clock to give UW a 71–44 lead with 7:56 left in the game.
Trice scored seven straight points to extend the advantage to 33 points with 3:02 remaining.
In the second half, both teams shot over 50 percent (Wisconsin 55.2 percent, Yale 51.9) from the field. Yale out-rebounded UW 17–12 in the second half.
True freshmen guards Brad Davison and Kobe King combined for 15 points. Ten players scored in the win, along with seven players scoring at least seven points.
Happ downplays knee issue
At halftime, Happ appeared to be hobbled coming off the court and was seen wearing a sleeve around his knee.
“It was the defensive possession before, and I was sliding with Oni and just felt something in my knee,” Happ said. “Got back up and once the adrenaline came down a little bit, I felt something, but I’m fine now, so that’s all that matters.”
Scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds in the second half, Happ continued his impressive start to the 2017-18 season.