Wisconsin Knocks Off Stanford, 62-46, In Battle 4 Atlantis Opener

Wisconsin Knocks Off Stanford, 62-46, In Battle 4 Atlantis Opener

Basketball

Wisconsin Knocks Off Stanford, 62-46, In Battle 4 Atlantis Opener

A return to the top 25 and the program’s first game on foreign soil in four years didn’t serve as a major distraction for the University of Wisconsin, not when the Badgers stick to their program benchmarks.

Relying heavily on its defensive principles and shoring up ball security as the game progressed, No.25 Wisconsin limited Stanford to 27.1 percent shooting and pulled away in the second half for a 62-46 in the quarterfinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

“What we’re trying to focus on this year is being a top defensive team in the country,” guard D’Mitrik Trice said, who scored 16 points to tie for the team lead. “I think that second half proved that we can be up there in the top five defenses in the country if we really stick to the game plan and help each other out.”

The victory keeps Wisconsin (4-0) in the winner’s bracket and sets up a semifinal matchup with Oklahoma, the program the Badgers beat in the Bahamas to win the 2014 tournament title. The Sooners defeated Florida, 65-60, in the opening game of the tournament.

The game will tipoff at 12:30 p.m. CT tomorrow.

Wisconsin’s performance was a perfect team snapshot. Ethan Happ registered his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out in the final three minutes, while Brad Davison scored five of his 14 points on a decisive second-half run.

UW also saw senior Khalil Iverson delivered a career-high tying 12 rebounds while Nate Reuvers tied a 36-year-old school record with nine blocks to go along with his eight points and five rebounds.

Reuvers’ shot-blocking prowess was only part of the UW defense that gave Stanford (2-2) and leading scorer KZ Okpala fits. Averaging 22.7 points per game, Okpala scored a season-low 11 points while going 2-for-12 from the floor.

He turned out to be the only Stanford player in double figures, as the Cardinal went only 2-for-18 from 3-point range and committed 21 personal fouls.

Unwilling to get beat by Wisconsin’s bevy of 3-point shooters, Stanford did everything it could to take away the perimeter options, pressure the ball and keep single coverage on Happ, negating his ability as a premier passer. The move backfired with Wisconsin attacking the low post, scoring 40 points around the rim, and Happ getting 7-foot center Josh Sharma in foul trouble.

Spending over 15 minutes in the bonus, the Badgers went 15-for-18 from the line in the second half.

“When the shots aren’t falling (from the perimeter), you’ve got to find different ways to score and get involved,” Trice said. “Attacking the rim was one of the main things. I also think getting to the free throw line was big for us tonight.”

It wasn’t completely easy in the second half for Wisconsin. Once possession a 10-point lead with 10:41 remaining, the Cardinal ran off a 7-0 run in 81 seconds, taking advantage of missed free throws and missed shots in the paint to cut the lead to one possession.

Stanford even managed to cut the lead to two, but a pair of missed free throws turned the tide. Davison delivered an old-fashioned 3-point play to start a run of 9 points in four possessions, giving the Badgers their largest lead at 53-42 with 4:03 remaining.

Over the final 6:02, Wisconsin outscored Stanford 18-4.

Wisconsin shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, limited Stanford to only 31 percent and made life challenging for Okpala. What on paper appeared like a double-digit lead for the Badgers was in reality only 28-24 after UW committed eight turnovers in 34 possessions, seven of which came in the first 8:03 of the half.

The Badgers cleaned things up in the second half (three total and none until the 11:50 mark) and never trailed because of it.

More BadgersInsider
Home