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Badgers end skid with narrow win over Penn State, 64-63

Wisconsin escapes the Bryce Jordan Center with a narrow win over a talented Penn State squad

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Something scary always seems to happen when the Wisconsin Badgers travel to Penn State for a basketball game. It almost happened again on Monday night as Wisconsin blew a 17-point lead only to hang on for a 64-63 win over the Nittany Lions.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak by the Badgers and gave UW its first win in Big Ten play this season. It was a nice rebound after getting blown out by Ohio State on Saturday in the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin was up by as many as 17 in second half, but foul trouble for some of the biggest names on the team and Penn State’s ability to hit anything and everything made it in to a game. UW got big nights from two unlikely contributors on the score sheet.

Junior forward Khalil Iverson led the Badgers with 16 points and reserve forward Nathan Reuvers added 11 points in the winning effort. Both were needed as Ethan Happ battled foul trouble and a bad night on the defensive end of the court. He finished the game with 9 points and 10 rebounds, but was just 3 of 12 shooting on the night.

Penn State countered with a great night from its big man, as Mike Watkins poured in a game-high 22 points to lead three Nittany Lions in double figures.

In the end, Penn State’s furious comeback just wasn’t enough though as UW made enough of its free throws to keep the lead and force Penn State in to desperation mode in the final minute of the game.

The Badgers will stay in Pennsylvania for a game on Wednesday at Temple. Tip is scheduled for 6pm CT and will be shown on ESPNU.

 

Iverson Finally Woke Up

Khalil Iverson has been one of the more frustrating players to watch so far in 2017. He’s shown all the flashes of athleticism we saw his first two seasons in a Badgers uniform, but he hasn’t been able to finish around the rim and been a defensive liability at times. That wasn’t the case at all against Penn State.

Iverson finished the game with 16 points, 14 of which came in the first half. That was good news, because Happ was struggling to find open looks on the offensive end and couldn’t keep pace with Mike Watkins on the other end. Happ was in foul trouble too, and Iverson capitalized on being in the right positions to receive passes from Happ all night long.

Wisconsin needs to see more of the kind of consistency they saw out of Iverson tonight if they want to continue winning games in conference play.

Curse of Bryce Jordan Center Nearly Happened Again

Even the best of the Badgers teams we’ve seen over the last decade have gone to Penn State and had massive trouble against the Nittany Lions. Early on it looked like the curse was going to rear its ugly head, but then a big spurt on offense gave the Badgers a 17-point lead in the second half.

Anyone that has paid attention to how games go at the BJC with the Badgers and Nittany Lions knew it wasn’t going to be over though. That’s exactly what happened, as Penn State whittled away at the lead and eventually were within a bucket with just under 2 minutes to play.

However, unlike in years past, the Badgers found a way to scrap and claw victory from the jaws of defeat. Whether that was via bad officiating at times (see ball on the end line and Brad Davison fouling out for no reason), ungodly shooting or loose balls bouncing away from the Badgers, somehow all of it was able to be put to side.

Wins like this can really galvanize a young team, let’s see how the Badgers respond when they face another tough test against Temple on Wednesday night.

Youth Finally Served to Opponents

We’ve seen pops of brilliance from the Badgers foursome of freshmen — Brad Davison, Aleem Ford, Kobe King and Nathan Reuvers — but we haven’t seen that group take over the game. That stopped on Tuesday night, as Reuvers put up double figures (11) and the trio gave UW 24 points combined (8 points for King and 5 from Ford, while Davison didn’t get on the score sheet).

Reuvers’ contributions were huge, as Ethan Happ faced foul trouble in the second half and he stepped up to replace the missing scoring. King also hit some big buckets as the Badgers needed the points in the second half and Ford contributed a solid four rebound game as well.

If this group can give the Badgers 24-30 points per game its a recipe for success. The problem is, this group is still growing and inconsistent play has been the norm so far. Let’s see if they can turn the page and become consistent players as the bulk of Big Ten play awaits in January and February.

 

Grades:

Ethan Happ: B – 

It’s hard to be really harsh on the guy who carried this team and pulled down 10 rebounds. However, foul trouble hurt him and he was just 3 of 12 from the field. Not his beset night by far.

Khalil Iverson: A

This was by far his best night in a Badgers uniform. He spaced the floor well, used his athleticism to contribute on both ends and lifted the team up when it needed it as Happ struggled offensively. Iverson was a super-efficient 7 of 8 from the field in the winning effort.

Alem Ford: B +

He wasn’t asked to do a ton of scoring, but he did hit two important shots and contributed four rebounds. There was also an assist and a steal to his name. Overall, a nice night for a role player on the starting lineup.

Brad Davison: C 

Davison has really struggled since picking up two shoulder injuries in less than two weeks time. I love his gritty game and willingness to play through injury, but he’s basically a one-armed player at the moment and you have to think some time off to heal up would be helpful. He took just four shots and missed them all. Luckily, his hustle turned in to a pair of rebounds, assists and one steal.

D’Mitrick Trice: C +

Scoring 9 points isn’t bad, but doing it while shooting 2 of 9 from the field and getting five of your nine points from the free throw line? Not exactly how you draw it up for your point guard. If Davison was 100 percent, it would be interesting to see if Trice would even be starting at this point. He hasn’t shown he deserves it in the past few weeks.

Brevin Pritzl: A

He wasn’t asked to shoot the ball a ton, but he did manage to hit an important triple and he was highly efficient from the free throw line. Oh and Prtizl threw in 5 rebounds for good measure. It was one of his better overall nights in Big Ten play in his career. More of that overall effort and he’ll see more minutes too.

Kobe King: A 

King came up big when the team needed points in the second half. He shot a nice 3 of 4 from the field and was 2 of 2 from beyond the arc. It didn’t hurt he also pulled down 3 rebounds and had an assist and a blocked shot. King needs more moments like this to keep seeing his minutes increase.

Nathan Reuvers: A +

All I have to say is 11 points in 13 minutes of action. Reuvers was on fire, showing a good jump shot and an ability to mix it up despite playing a bit undersized down low. Will that eventually catch up to him? That is going to be the big question, but if they can get 7-10 points out of him on a consistent basis, they’ve found the big man off the bench that actually will help this team win.

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Badgers Basketball

Former Badger Jon Leur traded to Milwaukee Bucks

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They say you can always go home, and for one former Wisconsin Badger he’s coming back to a state he called home for four years.

Former Badgers forward Jon Leuer was traded early on Thursday morning from the Detroit Pistons to the Milwaukee Bucks. In exchange for Leuer, the Bucks gave up the 30th overall pick in tonight’s NBA Draft and traded away Tony Snell.

Last season, Leuer played in 41 games for the Pistons and made just one start. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in his ninth season in the NBA.

Leuer is a very similar player to Snell, but comes at a much more team-friendly salary.

In trading away Snell, the Bucks free up an additional $4 million in salary this year and another $12 million next year.

This could be seen as a way for the Bucks to pony up the big money that Khris Middleton wants from the team in order to stay in Milwaukee.

As for Leuer, he is 17th on the all-time Badgers scoring list with 1,376 points to his name. He also finished his career with 551 rebounds.

Leuer’s final season in Madison was his best statistically, as he helped lead the 2010-11 Badgers team to the Sweet 16. He averaged 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game that year.

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers basketball land Davis twins

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After missing out on the Hauser brothers late last month, the Wisconsin Badgers added a different pair of siblings on Saturday night.

Following an offer to the brother of 4-star shooting guard Johnny Davis and an appearance at a team camp this weekend, the Davis brothers announced their pledge to the Badgers according to Badger247.

It took less than a week after head coach Greg Gard gave the O.K. to offer Jordan for the pair to commit to Wisconsin.

Johnny held offers from Marquette, West Virginia, Iowa, Minnesota, DePaul, UNLV and others.

Jordan had offers from UW-Milwaukee and Green Bay, while also becoming a sought after recruit on the football field as well. Once he became serious about wanting to play basketball first, it seemed like a matter of time before Wisconsin offered.

That time came after seeing Jordan play in a camp last weekend.

It also came because it was time to figure out if Johnny was serious about the Badgers or not.

With the July evaluation period coming up, Wisconsin’s coaching staff put the final chips in the middle with this recruitment and it appeared to pay off.

Johnny joins as the No. 141 ranked player in the country and the No. 14 ranked combo guard in the nation according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

The twins will join Detroit, Mich. native Lorne Bowman in the 2020 class.

Wisconsin still has one scholarship available in the class as well, which is likely being held for 5-star and Wisconsin native Jalen Johnson.

After missing out on talented in-state players over and over again, this was a major win for Gard and his coaching staff considering how hard schools like West Virginia and Marquette were after Johnny’s commitment.

As for Jordan, it appears the coaching staff believes he is improving enough to get a scholarship and continue his improvement with this program.

Offers don’t come out just because it may win over a different recruit at Wisconsin. That wasn’t Bo Ryan’s style and it also isn’t Greg Gard’s style.

The trio of players put the Badgers at No. 8 in the country and No. 3 in the Big Ten in the 2020 class as of today.

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Former Badgers get No. 2 seed in The Basketball Tournament Columbus regional

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Who doesn’t want $2 million? That’s the prize at stake for winning The Basketball Tournament and a group of former Wisconsin Badgers want in.

On Tuesday it was officially announced that the Kohl Blooded team — spearheaded by former Badgers point guard Kam Taylor — will be the No. 2 seed in the Columbus regional.

They will take on No. 7 seed Mid-American Unity, which is making its second appearance in the TBT after a year off. That group represents teams from across the Mid-American conference.

As for the Badgers, the roster will be made up of some very strong names from the past. The headline names include members of the back-to-back Final Four teams in Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown. Also joining will be Jordan Taylor, Ryan Evans, Trevon Hughes and recent grad Charles Thomas. You can see the full roster here.

The regionals will take place July 19-21 in Columbus with the winner of this regional meeting seven other winners in Chicago for championship week.

All games will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks, so you should be able to find them either streaming or on cable television.

Kohl Blooded vs. Mid-American Unity will tip at 1pm ET on Friday, July 19.

The winner will take on the winner of Red Scare (Dayton alumni) and The Region (players from Northwest Indiana) in the regional semi-final the next day.

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Badgers play final card in attempt to land 2020 G Johnny Davis

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A week after losing out on Joey and Sam Hauser, the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program needs some positive momentum on the player acquisition front.

With three scholarships available in the 2020 class and two top in-state players in their sites, the Badgers coaching staff has been about as patient as possible.

On Wednesday, Badger247 reports that UW has offered Jordan Davis, the twin brother of top target Johnny Davis. It’s not a walk-on or grayshirt, but a full scholarship offer.

After two years of waiting for that offer to come, it finally did.

Jordan is an unranked player in basketball at this time, but I expect that to change once the scouting services catch wind of this offer. Johnny Davis is the No. 131 ranked player in the country, a 4-star rated prospect and the No. 3 ranked player in the state of Wisconsin in the 2020 class.

With the brothers set to make a weekend visit for team camp in two weeks, this is a move that undoubtably puts the pressure squarely on Johnny Davis at this point.

Simply put, the Badgers need to know if Davis is going to commit or if they need to move on.

Offering Jordan a full ride is about the only thing left in the Badgers quiver at this point. If getting the dream of playing basketball together at the same school and in-state no less doesn’t tip the scales, at least the Badgers know they can move on.

Is it a desperate move? In some ways one could see it as such. Clearly the Badgers want Johnny in a major way and they see offering Jordan as a critical move that could separate themselves from the competition.

However, this also isn’t a coaching staff willing to just throw away a scholarship in an effort to get a coveted player to play for them. That’s simply not Greg Gard’s style.

Jordan is also a player they see as a contributor, or he wasn’t getting an offer. Plain and simple.

There’s no doubt that this move ups the pressure, like I mentioned before. But, that’s not a bad thing, as UW needs to know where they stand heading in to July’s evaluation period.

If the Davis brothers can’t commit or at least internally give the coaching staff the information that will make them feel comfortable, they need to start getting offers out to other big time players whom they’ve been waiting to offer.

Consider UW is an underdog to land in-state five-star prospect Jalen Johnson, and you have to consider this move a smart one for the long term prospects of the 2020 class.

Will the Davis twins jump at the offer to play together at Wisconsin?

Some in the recruiting world believe this was the situation that was holding Wisconsin back all along. So, don’t be surprised to see this affect the recruitment of both players in a big way.

As for Jordan, his game has also caught the attention of Iowa and Minnesota and he did have scholarship offers from both Green Bay and Milwaukee prior to this one.

What may have really held the Badgers coaching staff and others back was the fact that Jordan is also a good player on the football side and wasn’t sure which sport he wanted to pick.

It seems like UW has gotten the clue that Jordan may be more receptive to a basketball future and pulled the trigger on the offer.

We’ll see how much longer the two stay uncommitted, but don’t be surprised to see something happen following July’s AAU season.

Letting that play out and getting all the offers out there on the table is just a smart move for the twins. From there, it’s up to them and clearly the Badgers have left no stone unturned in this situation.

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