Wisconsin won a classic versus a quality Western Kentucky team by a score of 81 to 80. It was a back-and-forth affair that remained close throughout. With 1:10 to go, a Brevin Pritzl spin-move and finish extended Wisconsin’s lead to five. But Western Kentucky answered with an old-fashioned three-point play. After some poor free throw shooting by the Badgers, the Hilltoppers tied the game on a Darius Thompson floater with two-seconds to play. Instead of throwing up a prayer of a shot, Badger freshman Brad Davison set up to take a screen on the defender guarding the inbounds pass, and drew the foul. He then converted the game-winning free throw.
The Badgers shot extremely well from beyond the arc, hitting 12 of their 20 attempts. Pritzl and Aleem Ford were both 4/5 from deep each. Pritzl had 17 points, tied with Ethan Happ for the team-high. Davison added 16 and Ford had 14. Next up, the Badgers finally get a little bit of a break from their grueling schedule, as they don’t play again until December 23rd against Green Bay.
Genius call on the last play
— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) December 14, 2017
Whether you like that Wisconsin was in this situation or not, this was an incredibly smart and gutsy play call by Greg Gard. He knew the chances of Wisconsin advancing the ball all the way down the court and getting a good shot in two seconds were slim, so he dialed up a trick play. Since Pritzl was allowed to run the baseline, Gard assumed that Stansbury would have a man denying the pass. So Davison set up in front of the player mirroring Pritzl and drew a foul. That’s a play that has been around for a while, but it was a perfect time for Gard to pull it out. It was also great execution by Davison.
Free throw shooting was a struggle
As crafty as that last play was, Wisconsin should never have had to do it. They almost gave away the game with their awful free throw shooting. The Badgers only hit 13-23 from the line, which is just 56.5%. Ethan Happ was 3-8, which was especially startling considering it seemed like he had begun to make progress with his free throw shooting. Both Pritzl and Davison also missed key free throws in the final minutes, not including the one Pritzl smartly missed intentionally.
We’re used to seeing it from the football team, but with the injuries to Kobe King and D’Mitrik Trice, walk-ons are being called on to help the basketball team too. Junior T.J. Schlundt was given a temporary scholarship this fall, and he played 21 major minutes today. He was in the game in crunch time, and hit a pair of big three-pointers while not making many mistakes.
Freshman point guard Walt McGrory also got in the game for the first time this season. While the original plan was to redshirt him, the injury to Trice forced him to burn it. He only played two minutes, but looked surprisingly good. He showed a good burst of quickness on a drive, and drew a foul. He will likely see more minutes backing Davison up at point guard going forward.
Pritzl finally gets going
All we’ve heard over the last two seasons is how great of a shooter Pritzl is, but today was the first time we really saw it. He was 4/5 from beyond the arc for a career-high 17 points. He also had a great drive and finish in the last minute. Hopefully this game will get Pritzl going for the rest of the season. They need his shooting, and if this is a sign that he has finally broken out of his funk, it would be huge for Wisconsin.
Brad Davison: B+
He had 16 points, 5 assists, and was his normal tough, energetic self. He needs to take care of the ball better against traps.
Brevin Pritzl: B+
Pritzl was lights out from three-point range. His defense was horrible.
Khalil Iverson: B-
Iverson was invisible in the first half, but scored eight points and blocked three shots in the second half.
Aleem Ford: A-
He is a 3-and-D player, and he provided a lot of both tonight.
Ethan Happ: B+
He had 17 points and 6 assists. But his free throw shooting was back to being bad.
T.J Schlundt: B
He played a very steady 21 minutes, and hit a pair of triples. He did force some shots though.
Nate Reuvers: B
He was only 1/5 from the field, but played tough defense and boxed out well.