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Wisconsin basketball: Arkansas-Pine Bluff game recap

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The Badgers secured their second victory of the 2020-2021 season, with a 92-58 blowout win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

After winning their first game of the 2020-2021 season over Eastern Illinois on Wednesday, the Wisconsin Badgers (2-0 overall, 0-0 B1G) were back in action on Friday night against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Entering the game as heavy favorites, the Badgers took care of the Golden Lions with relative ease and notched a 92-58 win.

Wisconsin opened the game on a tear, jumping out to a 14-0 advantage at the first media timeout thanks to some nice transition buckets by D’Mitrik Trice, and early scores by Micah Potter and Aleem Ford as well.

The bleeding didn’t stop there though, as the Badgers continued to pour it on into the second media timeout. With 11:19 left to play in the first half, Wisconsin held a 25-0 lead, and had six different players with a bucket.

Over the course of the final 10 minutes of the first half, Greg Gard and his team would not relent, and went into the intermission sporting a 34-point lead thanks to stellar ball movement (zero turnovers), and some hot shooting.

In the second half. Arkansas-Pine Bluff kept it competitive in the first few minutes by exchanging baskets with the Badgers. However, halfway through the second stanza Wisconsin still boasted a 35-point edge despite some sloppier play on both ends of the court.

With such a head start after a tremendous first half, Wisconsin was able to coast to victory for the final minutes of the game with Jonathan Davis, Ben Carlson, Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl getting some extended run.

In the end, the Badgers would finish off Arkansas-Pine Bluff with a 34-point win.

Notable stat lines:

  • Micah Potter —> 19 points (6-of-9 shooting), five rebounds, three assists
  • D’Mitrik Trice—> 15 points (6-of-9 shooting), three rebounds, three assists
  • Nate Reuvers —> 14 points (5-of-7 shooting), two rebounds, one block
  • Shaun Doss —> 16 points (6-of-17 shooting), four rebounds, two assists

Three things that stood out

No. 1: Zone busters

Arkansas-Pine Bluff utilized a 3-2 zone for most of the first half, and Wisconsin absolutely torched them with ball movement. The Badgers did a phenomenal job of getting the ball into the high post, and then rotating the ball around. As a result the team was able to connect from deep at a 58.3% clip, with six different players hitting a three.

In the opening moments of the second half, Arkansas-Pine-Bluff went away from the zone defense and switched to man-to-man. The switch definitely slowed Wisconsin down a bit, as the hot shooting from the first half cooled down in the second.

With so many capable shooters on the roster, the Badgers are well equipped to beat a zone defense this season. The struggles in the second half to maintain their domination is notable, but nonetheless the game was a solid matchup to pull film from in order to improve with a much harder schedule on deck in the B1G.

No. 2: Bench experience

With a large advantage from the very start of the game, Greg Gard was able to turn to his bench early and often. 10 players were rotated in during the first half, as Gard tinkered with various lineup combinations. That shuffling of the lineup is especially valuable for the three freshmen who saw time — Jonathan Davis, Ben Carlson, and Steven Crowl — who appear poised to contribute meaningful minutes this season off the bench.

In the last few minutes of the game, Greg Gard let his entire bench loose to close out the game. Those younger players, will likely not earn a lot of playing time this season, but allowing them time to cut their teeth in a low stress environment like garbage time should pay dividends later on in the season and in the future.

No. 3: Talent differential

Fresh off a drubbing by Marquette, Arkansas-Pine Bluff came into the contest against Wisconsin as one of the lowest ranked teams in the KenPom rankings (No. 353) after a miserable 2019-2020 in which they only won four games.

Against the Badgers, the Golden Lions didn’t even have a chance from the start, as Wisconsin completely dominated them in every facet of the game.

Wisconsin was clearly at a different level than Arkansas Pine-Bluff, and this game was a great tuneup for the rest of the season for the Badgers.

Up next: The Badgers will return to action at the Kohl Center on Tuesday, the first day of December, when they host UW-Green Bay at 4 p.m. CST on BTN.