After losing their first game Friday at the buzzer to Marquette, the Wisconsin Badgers bounced back Wednesday to defeat the Rhode Island Rams 73-62. This game was scheduled after Wisconsin was supposed to play Louisville in the ACC/Big Ten challenge. Louisville had to postpone after COVID issues. Below are three takeaways from this game.
The Defense Was Fantastic
Rhode Island entered this game averaging over 79 points a game, played with a quick pace, and wanted to get to the free throw line. In the first half, Wisconisn allowed 16 points, only two free throw attempts, and was 0-8 from three. Wisconsin also forced 11 first half turnovers from the Rams. Senior Nate Reuvers also broke the school record with his 155th blocked shot. The record was previously held by Ethan Happ.
It’s safe to say the second half was ugly from both teams. There was a lot of fouls and a lot of free throws. The Badgers shot 26-36 from the line while the Rams ended the game 15-25 from the line. Rhode Island played much faster, which was noted in the game preview of what the Rams wanted to do all along. Wisconisn controlled the pace for a majority of this game and it showed. The Badgers held Rams leading scorer Fatts Russell to eight points and 3-13 shooting from the field.
Brad Davison Had A Fantastic First Half
Brad Davison came into this game without having a big game scoring wise. The senior forward changed that against the Rams. Davison had 17 first half points, including 3-4 from three. He scored nine of the first ten points for the Badgers. He also outscored the Rams (16) by himself in the first half. Davison shot the ball confidently and it started to look like vintage Brad Davison.
The second half Davison was quieter. However, it was his run in the first half that allowed the Badgers to enter halftime with a 33-16 advantage. While Davison didn’t record a basket in the second half, he ended up with 23 points and 12-12 from the free throw line. As one of, if not the best free throw shooter on this team, he helped Wisconisn put this game away from the charity line.
Defense Needs to Play Better After Halftime
Wisconisn won this game in the second half from the charity line, thanks to a ton of Rhode Island fouls. The defense struggled again in the second half, allowing 40 points to the Rams. Wisconsin controlled the pace the entire first half, but allowed Rhode Island to play to their pace and strengths in the second half. The Rams got as close as 60-51 after back to back threes from Jeremy Sheppard with just over five minutes left. The Badger then took control of the rest of the game. The defense did show up when it mattered most.
Nate Reuvers also ran into foul trouble for the second straight game. Ruevers didn’t foul out but did have four fouls in back to back games. Reuvers and Potter are extremely important to this team and need to be on the court and available at any time. When the big men head to the bench, the Badger struggle to protect the rim.
There is nothing to scoff at with Rhode Island. The Rams are a team that will be a contender in the A-10 conference and could flirt with a spot in the NCAA tournament. This was a great test for Wisconsin, especially looking for an opponent at the last minute.
The Badgers play host to Northern Iowa on December 16. The Panthers are a highly respected mid-major. This should be another great test for Wisconisn as they prepare for the Big Ten season.
There is also a chance the Badgers could play Louisville as early as Sunday but that is yet to be determined.
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