MADISON, Wis. — As the young Wisconsin Badgers experience ups and downs in the early season, Brad Davison continues to play beyond his years.
The freshman guard scored a career-high 19 points and Ethan Happ had 14 points and eight rebounds to help Wisconsin snap a three-game losing streak with a 71-49 victory over in-state rival Milwaukee on Friday night.
“I like how we approached it,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “Knowing these state games, having been on the other side of it and now on this side for quite awhile, I understand the importance and relevance of it for Milwaukee, for us and for the game of basketball in the state.”
Davison helped the Badgers pull away by going 5 of 5 from the field and 4 of 4 from beyond the arc to score 14 points in the second half.
“I love Brad,” Milwaukee coach Pat Baldwin said. “Where I was before (assistant at Northwestern), we recruited him extremely hard … You love to have him on your team and hate to play against him.”
Wisconsin struggled to start second halves in its two losses at the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. Against Milwaukee, the Badgers (3-3) used an 18-4 run that spanned intermission to take a 39-25 lead on a long 3-pointer by Kobe King.
Milwaukee (4-2) would not get within single digits the rest of the way despite shooting 48.0 percent in the second half and 45.1 percent for the game.
“It is big every game to start each half well to set the tone,” Happ said. “We try to get stops all in a row. We didn’t do it in Kansas City. When teams get momentum coming out of halftime they are hard to stop.”
Wisconsin used a 7-0 run to take a 28-21 lead, but Jeremiah Bell hit a jumper at the buzzer to snap a scoreless streak of 5 minutes for the Panthers.
Brevin Pritzl scored 12 points and D’Mitrik Trice added 10.
Bryce Nze led Milwaukee with 10 points and seven rebounds. Bryce Barnes, Brock Stull and Bell all finished with nine points.
After hitting just a pair of 3-pointers in the first half, Wisconsin went 8 for 11 from beyond the arc in the second half. Davison finished 7 of 8 from the field and 5 of 6 from distance.
“I think it was huge for all of us to see shots go in,” Davison said. “It carried over to our defense in the second half. It allowed us to separate ourselves from Milwaukee.”
Milwaukee: After pulling out a 68-67 win over Wisconsin in Madison when the teams last met Dec. 9, 2015, the Panthers hung with the Badgers for the majority of the first half.
Wisconsin: The young Badgers entered having dropped three straight close games to ranked opponents. With Virginia looming before Big Ten play begins, Wisconsin needed this win.
BREAKING THE REDSHIRT
Wisconsin freshman forward Nate Reuvers made his debut Friday after sitting out the first five games of the season with the intention to redshirt. Reuvers finished 0 of 6 from the field but grabbed six rebounds in 14 minutes.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Badgers outrebounded the Panthers, 37-25, leading to a 19-7 advantage in second-chance points.
Milwaukee will travel to face Northern Illinois on Wednesday. The Huskies downed fellow Horizon League foe Green Bay, 85-65, on Nov. 14.
Wisconsin will play at Virginia in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Monday. The Cavaliers moved to 6-0 with a win over Rhode Island in the championship game of the Preseason NIT on Friday.
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