After two rough losses, the Wisconsin Badgers completed a blowout victory over Penn State in a 71-52 road win on Sunday night.
Wisconsin (11-4, 3-1 Big Ten) shot over 49 percent from the field for the game—over 59 percent in the final 20 minutes—with redshirt senior forward Ethan Happ leading the way with 22.
UW also played stout defense on the other side of the court, holding Penn State (7-8, 0-4) to under 38 percent shooting on the evening while forcing the Nittany Lions into some significant turnovers, especially in the first half.
Here are some quick takeaways from the Badgers’ victory:
Sophomores stepping up
A pair of second-year players in guard Brad Davison and forward Nate Reuvers asserted themselves well inside the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday night.
Davison recorded 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds with three assists, while Reuvers contributed 11 points, five blocks and two rebounds.
For Davison, he connected on all three-point attempts and was a nice backcourt complement to Happ (we will get to D’Mitrik Trice’s performance in just a bit). When his shot is on, the Minnesota native makes his presence felt, as seen with his last basket of the first half.
The level of difficulty on this @BadgerMBB @braddavi34 shot is, uh, high. pic.twitter.com/5qTxdBumRd— Wisconsin On BTN (@WisconsinOnBTN) January 7, 2019
Speaking with Reuvers ...
Nate Reuvers takeover season?
On both ends of the court, the forward continues to make progress and is becoming someone teams are going to have to scout and look for. On the offensive end, he showed he can score from the inside while maintaining the threat of hitting from deep—connecting on one of two three-point attempts and five of seven shots from the field overall.
Defensively, he may not have the eye-popping rebounding numbers yet, but the rim protector blocked those handful of Penn State shots.
His progression is huge for Wisconsin this season, assisted by adding muscle and weight to his frame from his freshman season, and he has started off the new year on the right foot.
Have a night, @Reuvers35! pic.twitter.com/E2Cb5ooULt— Wisconsin On BTN (@WisconsinOnBTN) January 7, 2019
D’Mitrik Trice contributing in other ways than scoreboard
After a rough shooting performance and some late turnovers against Minnesota, the redshirt sophomore guard played a solid game in particular areas. Yes, he still did not shoot well (2-of-9 overall, 1-of-6 from three-point range) in scoring just five points, but he made plays in the other phases of the game. He dished out four assists to his teammates, compared to only one turnover, and he added three steals on the defensive end.
That last stat was huge for Wisconsin, as Penn State committed 16 turnovers overall—11 in the first half—which turned into 19 points for Greg Gard’s squad.
For Wisconsin, they only committed seven turnovers on the evening, a huge factor in their win on the road.
Charles Thomas made his minutes count
He played only 10 minutes in Happy Valley, but he tallied seven points on 3-of-4 shooting and recorded a rebound and assist each. His evening also included a rare three-pointer during the first half to extend Wisconsin’s lead to 11. Any contributions from the senior big man will be welcome, especially with the Badgers’ conference schedule ahead.
BONUS: They know how to unwind
Apparently Wisconsin’s flight was delayed, as the Wisconsin State Journal’s Jim Polzin broke it all down here:
Getting a lot of charter flight questions. UW works with a charter company based in Miami. So I'm not sure if this was the orginal plane, which had mechanical issues, or the company sending a different one up here to pick up the #Badgers and take them to Madison. https://t.co/4AkLIXjM25— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) January 7, 2019
Making lemonade out of lemons, they stayed in the Bryce Jordan Center for some extracurricular activities:
Q: What do you do when you just got a road win at Penn State, your flight is delayed and you’ve got the entire arena to yourself?— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) January 7, 2019
A: Kickball, of course... pic.twitter.com/UEqkWMnyW6