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Wisconsin Basketball Survives Against Western Kentucky

A recap, observations, and game grades from Wisconsin’s last second win against Western Kentucky.

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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

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.

Walk-ons contribute

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.

Grades

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.

 

 

 

 

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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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