More often than not, exhibition games are full of trial and error and teaching tools for coaches before the regular season begins. Wisconsin’s rout of Northern Iowa on Wednesday, however, was a little more than just a dress rehearsal packed with mistakes.
Playing in a charity contest to help Team Rubicon raise money for its disaster relief efforts in Houston, Puerto Rico, and California, the Badgers overcame a slow start to dominate the Panthers 69-38 at the Kohl Center in Madison, WI.
Freshman guard Kobe King came off the bench to lead Wisconsin with 15 points, while big men Ethan Happ and Khalil Iverson each added nine.
Simply put, the Badgers looked pretty sharp, and here is what we learned about Greg Gard’s squad during the contest:
The Badgers Mean Business On The Defensive End
Wisconsin trailing 10-2 in the opening few minutes, and it looked as if UNI would provide a nice test. That was short-lived. The Badgers proceeded to go on a 20-2 run immediately after and never looked back.
A lot of the credit should go to a stout defensive effort. Wisconsin shuffled multiple players in throughout the game — 10 players logged double-digit minutes — and held Northern Iowa to under 33 percent shooting for the game, including 26.9 percent in the second half.
The Badgers also forced 16 turnovers, and if they want to keep the tradition alive of finishing in the upper half of the Big Ten this season, more performances like this will help.
Ethan Happ Digs The Long Ball
The scouting report on the preseason All-Big Ten selection likely had nothing to do with him shooting 3-pointers. Happ, a 6-foot-10 forward, had never made a shot behind the arc in his short but sensational Badger career.
In fact, he never even attempted one last season. But early in the second half, and with one attempt already under his belt in the game, Happ got a pass back out of the post from Iverson and drilled it. Shocking? The reaction from the Wisconsin bench and the huge roar Kohl Center crowd sure made it feel that way.
Fans at the Kohl Center: “Wait, Khalil Iverson is hitting 3s this season??”— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) November 2, 2017
Ethan Happ: “Hold my Gatorade” pic.twitter.com/JDZR501AAs
No Surprise Here: Kobe King Can Gets Buckets
Anyone who followed the 6-foot-3 shooting guard at La Crosse Central (IN) already knew his capabilities as a scorer. It just was kind of crazy to see how easy he has made the transition to the college game look. King dropped a game-high 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting in 16 minutes. It was an impressive performance in his first game under the bright lights and proved King could be ready to provide a major scoring boost all season long.
Don't miss the Badgers back in action against UW-Stout at 4 PM CT on Sunday, Nov. 5, live on FloHoops. FULL SCHEDULE