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Brevin Pritzl starts off hot to start 2018-19 season

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The redshirt junior picks up where he left off at the end of last season.

Dan Sanger

When the Wisconsin basketball team tipped off its 2018-19 campaign on Nov. 6, redshirt junior Brevin Pritzl came off the bench and made the most of his 21 minutes on the floor.

Pritzl scored 16 points, shooting 4-of-7 from the field—all three-point attempts—and connected on all four of his free throw attempts in helping Wisconsin cruise to a 85-63 win over Coppin State.

Pritzl’s performance was a welcomed sign for the De Pere, Wis.. native, who now enters his fourth season on campus. Last season as a redshirt sophomore, Pritzl took on a more prominent role on the team in playing in 32 games (21 starts) and averaged 8.9 points per contest.

Pritzl has long been touted as a threat from behind the arc and was once referred to as the best shooter in the country by then teammate Nigel Hayes. As a redshirt sophomore during the 2017-18 season, 63.7 percent of his field goal attempts came from three-point range but he connected on only 35.6 percent of those shots.

Through his first three seasons, he has fallen a little short of that distinction, shooting 35 percent from behind the arc and 39.4 percent from the field.

Arguably, Pritzl’s toughest collegiate stretch came in consecutive losses (which came on the tail end of a five-game skid) to start out February 2018. In Wisconsin’s 60-52 loss to Northwestern on Feb. 1, Pritzl shot 0-for-11 from the field—including 0-of-9 from behind the arc—in 35 minutes of play.

Three days later, Pritzl appeared for only six minutes of Wisconsin’s 68-63 loss at Maryland, where he missed both attempts from the field (one from three-point range).

Pritzl then redeemed himself and in Wisconsin’s following contest, hitting all three of his three-point attempts en route to a 15-point performance in a win over Illinois.

Following that 0 for 13 stretch from the field, Pritzl averaged 10.9 points to close out the remaining eight games of the 2017-18 season and shot 48 percent from the outside over that time.

Wisconsin finished with a 15-18 record last season, ending a 19-season streak of NCAA Tournament bid, and much like past seasons before, Wisconsin lived and died by the three-pointer. In their 18 losses, Wisconsin shot an average of 19.8 three-point attempts, connecting on only 27 percent of them. The team made 10 or more 3-pointers in just one of those defeats. UW also failed to shoot better than 33.3 percent from outside in 18 of their games—shooting 33.5 percent from three-point range overall.

Given Wisconsin’s history, things started off on the right foot last Tuesday. In Wisconsin’s opener, the team connected on 12 of 32 from behind the arc (37.5 percent), with the Badgers hitting on nine of 17 in the first half to help push out a large lad.

Pritzl was not alone in having the hot hand from outside. Returning to the court after missing all but 10 games of the 2017-17 season, redshirt sophomore guard D’Mtrik Trice shot 5-of-9 from behind the arc and scored a game-high 21 points.

With the return of Trice and the possibility of Pritzl picking up where he left off this past season, Wisconsin could be in better shape with two sharpshooters in helping the team return to the NCAA Tournament.