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Wisconsin overwhelms Green Bay in first half on way to 81–60 win

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A great way to head into the holiday.

NCAA Basketball: Green Bay at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

MADISON — A strong first half led to a victory right before Christmas, as the Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Green Bay Phoenix 81–60 on Saturday evening at the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin (6–7) hit its first 10 shots of the game, with the likes of Aleem Ford, Brad Davison, Ethan Happ, and Khalil Iverson draining shots that allowed the team to never trail against one of its in-state foes.

UW shot 61.3 percent in the first half (19 of 31), 53.6 percent for the game, while dominating in the paint 46–14 and out-rebounding Green Bay 40–20 overall.

Davison scored a game-high 18 points in 28 minutes on 7-of-14 shooting, with Happ contributing 14 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes.

Iverson connected on all five of his field-goal attempts to record 12 points against Green Bay (5–8), while Ford, the redshirt freshman, continued his solid shooting in the past two games with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting (2-of-2 from three-point range).

It was an ugly first half for Green Bay, which led to a hole it could not dig itself out of. At one point, the Phoenix missed nine field goals in a row from the field and were 2-of-12 shooting heading into halftime. There was an 11:42 time span, from 12:42 to 1:20, where the Horizon League program did not score a field goal, though it connected on six free throws.

Green Bay also committed nine turnovers in the first half, 14 for the game.

The Badgers owned the Phoenix in the paint (32–4) and on the boards (20–7) in the first half, but were not perfect.

UW turned the ball over seven times, and from 11:40 to 6:02, it hit on only two of 10 field goals. Greg Gard’s squad recovered, however.

True freshman Nate Reuvers’s dunk at 5:19 sparked the Badgers to hit six of eight field goals, leading to a 13–0 run in a 3:45 span to expand the lead to 42–19.

The Badgers’ 44–24 halftime lead was extended in the second half by as much as 32 points with 9:40 left in the game after an Iverson layup, but Green Bay cut the lead back down to 21 with players resting towards the end of the game.

Wisconsin cooled off from the field in the second half (44 percent), but there were some positive signs from the likes of true freshman guard Walt McGrory, who recorded all four points and four of his six rebounds in the final 20 minutes.

McGrory, a walk-on who has had to step up alongside T.J. Schlundt with the injuries to D’Mitrik Trice and Kobe King, played 21 minutes in all against Green Bay.

Guard Sandy Cohen III led the Phoenix in scoring with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, with fellow guards Khalil Small and P.J. Pipes recording 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Wisconsin returns to action on Wednesday against Chicago State (8 p.m. CT, ESPNU).