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Wisconsin basketball: Eastern Illinois game recap

Wisconsin took care of business in the home opener against Eastern Illinois.

Dan Sanger

On a night honoring Howard Moore and his family, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team won their first game of the 2019-2020 calendar year.

Wisconsin was able to beat Eastern Illinois 65-52. Wisconsin is now 1-1 on the year, and will return to action at the Kohl Center next Wednesday against McNeese State.

Against Eastern Illinois, Wisconsin came out slow, shooting only 1-of-5 from behind the three point arc and had five turnovers in the first 10 minutes of game action. The Badgers eventually settled in though and went into the half leading 34-27. Wisconsin was paced by Kobe King and Nate Reuvers, who were each in double figures at the half.

Of note, Wisconsin went the majority of the first half minus starting point guard D’Mitrik Trice who took an elbow to the face and didn’t return from the locker room until three minutes were left in the first half.

In the second half Wisconsin was unable to pull away from the Panthers. Wisconsin only shot 32% in the second half, and continued to struggle on the glass. It seemed as though the team was too hesitant on the offensive end, and that resulted in missed opportunities. Late in the half thought Wisconsin locked up defensively and finally found their scoring touch to go on a 15-0 run that catapulted the Badgers to pull away in the end.

Notable stat lines:

  • Nate Reuvers —> 14 points (4-of-8 shooting), 14 rebounds, nine blocks
  • Kobe King—> 18 points (5-of-12 shooting), six rebounds, three steals
  • Aleem Ford —> 11 points (4-of-10 shooting), four rebounds (fouled out)

Three things that stood out

No. 1: Kobe King

Kobe King played much better this game than in the opener against Saint Mary’s. King hunted his shot more, and delivered a thunderous one-handed slam midway through the first half. On the night King had 18 points (a career high), and six rebounds. King gave fans a glimpse of why the Wisconsin staff has been so high on his development in the off-season. King was one of the lone bright spots offensively in a grind.

No. 2: Shooting Woes

Wisconsin suffered through multiple offensive field goal droughts due to poor shooting. Outside of shooting 20-of-24 from the free throw line, a marked improvement from last season, the Badgers struggled to score. Wisconsin was only 21 for 55 from the field and an abysmal 17% from behind the three point line. The swing offense at times looked too slow to develop as the team was a split second delayed on some passes, and players struggled with their rotations. The offensive stagnation will need to change with an uptick in competition upcoming.

No. 3: Rebounding...again

After being out-rebounded by Saint Mary’s, including 13 offensive rebounds, the good news was that Wisconsin bounced back and won the rebounded battle against Eastern Illinois. The bad news...Eastern Illinois’s tallest player Braxton Shaw is only 6-foot-7 and he didn’t play a minute in the game. Wisconsin allowed 10 offensive rebounds, which lead to 13 second chance points. Micah Potter will undoubtedly help when eligible, but as it stands the Badgers need to improve upon blocking out and rebounding to mitigate second chance opportunities or Big Ten play will be a struggle.