Tournament time is when seniors are supposed to shine. Wisconsin’s big-named seniors did just that on Thursday night, leading the Badgers to an 84-74 victory over Virginia Tech in an NCAA tournament Round of 64 matchup.
Point guard Bronson Koenig went off from deep, hitting a school record eight three-pointers en route to 28 points on the night. Fellow senior, Nigel Hayes, added a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Even the bench got involved, as sophomore forward Khalil Iverson added a needed 11 points and seven rebounds in the win. He did most o his damage down low, including drawing plenty of attention from the Hokies defenders, resulting in Iverson going 7-of-10 from the free throw line.
Virginia Tech kept things close until the final minute, in large part due to senior Zach LeDay. He led all Hokies with 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field. He also had four rebounds, while Ty Outlaw chipped in a team-high seven rebounds to go with 16 points in the loss.
The start felt very familiar to those who have seen this team all season. Wisconsin made a few early shots, but then went ice-cold from the field. A 2-of-11 start from the field also led to the Hokies taking a 10-6 lead with 14:10 to play in the first half.
However, the Badgers didn’t give up and kept it close with some good defensive effort and some streaky three-point shooting. Eventually the shooting came around UW answered with a 12-2 run near the middle of the first half. At that point it was Wisconsin up 20-14 with 9:05 to play in the half.
That all happened with sophomore center Ethan Happ on the bench after picking up his second foul before the 10-minute mark of the first half. He had just two points in the half.
Koenig knocked down a three-pointer to put the Badgers up 13-12 with 11:46 to go in the first half and Wisconsin didn’t give up the lead again in the half — leading 34-30 at intermission.
The senior guard was also critical to UW’s production from beyond the arc, hitting three of his eight made three-pointers in the first half alone. It led to Koenig leading all players with 11 points in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Coming in to the game, rebounding was one of the major talking points and it was surely a huge help to the Badgers in the first half. UW allowed Virginia Tech to shoot 50% from the field and countered by shooting just 37.5 percent. However, an 11-3 advantage in offensive rebounds led to a 21-12 advantage in overall rebounds.
UW kept at it on the boards, winning that battle 43-28 on the night and out-rebounding the Hokies 21-12 on the offensive glass.
It was a good thing, as even Koenig’s big night beyond the arc couldn’t fully shake the Hokies. That was in large part because Virginia Tech took advantage of Wisconsin’s inability to work well with the pick and roll. It led to a massive advantage at the free throw line, as the Hokies connected on 16 of 21 free throw attempts in the second half alone.
Their work at the free throw line kept this game close for large stretches, but eventually UW’s hot three-point shooting and its ability to connect at the charity stripe were just too much.
Wisconsin never led by more than six points until late. In fact, the Hokies were dangerously close to taking the game over more than once in the second half.
The game never got closer than UW’s 60-59 lead with 8:51 to play in the game. Koenig responded with a three-pointer and it kept the Hokies at bay until just a few minutes later.
With Wisconsin leading 67-61 and seemingly pulling away, LeDay and guard Seth Allen combined for a 5-0 run to pull Va Tech within a point. After trading buckets, it was once again Koenig and his clutch play beyond the arc that broke a near deadlock.
His make from deep put the Badgers up 72-68 with 5:17 to play, but it wasn’t enough to completely put away the Hokies. Instead, the game kept crawling along until Hayes and Ethan Happ stepped up for a 5-0 run that put Wisconsin up 79-73 with 1:21 to play.
From there it was all Wisconsin, who made five of its final six free throws and iced the game away.
The late-game heroics at the line were unexpected but a welcome sight as well. Just how unexpected though? Try this:
#Badgers shot 76.0 percent from the free throw line. Best mark since Dec. 23 vs. Florida A&M (min. 10 attempts).
— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) March 17, 2017
Wisconsin advances to take on No. 1 overall seed Villanova in a Round of 32 matchup on Saturday at 1:40p.m. CT on CBS.
Former Badger Jon Leur traded to Milwaukee Bucks
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.
Badgers basketball land Davis twins
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.
Former Badgers get No. 2 seed in The Basketball Tournament Columbus regional
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.
Badgers play final card in attempt to land 2020 G Johnny Davis
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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