Iverson sparks Badgers against Yale
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MADISON--Khalil Iverson was quiet in Wisconsin’s opener last week--perhaps understandably so.
Playing one night after the three-year anniversary of his father’s death, the junior guard committed four turnovers, didn’t attempt a shot in 22 minutes and never appeared comfortable.
“It bothers me a lot sometimes,” Iverson said. “I try not to think about it but it still happens. And I know how my mom and the rest of my family feels.”
Iverson appeared much more relaxed Sunday night at the Kohl Center and contributed a career-high 17 points in UW’s 89-61 victory over Yale, the No. 2 pick in the Ivy League race.
Iverson hit 6 of 7 shots and scored 13 points in the opening half to help UW (2-0) build a 43-22 halftime lead. He finished 8 of 9 overall and added two rebounds and three assists and played solid defense on Yale guard Miye Oni (nine points, seven turnovers).
"I think that weighed on him on Friday," said UW coach Greg Gard, who lost his father in the fall of 2015. "I thought today he was his old self and rightfully so. I know that is a very difficult time, and I’m 20-plus years older than him.
"I thought he was energized from the start."
UW moved the ball crisply for high-percentage shots inside and out, whether Yale (0-2) played man-to-man or zone.
The Badgers struggled from 3-point range after a 3-for-5 start and hit just 7 of 22 attempts from beyond the arc.
UW compensated with 46 points in the paint, by hitting 31 of 61 shots overall (50.8 percent) and by making 20 of 26 free throws (76.9 percent).
"We were able to share the ball," Gard said. "I thought guys were really unselfish. We moved the ball around. We were able to play inside-out.
"We didn't shoot the 3 as well as we can or maybe will down the road, but we were obviously able to get to the free-throw line."
Ethan Happ felt discomfort in his left knee in the final minute of the first half and was laboring as he walked off the court. He played the second half wearing a protective sleeve on his leg.
Happ recorded his second double-double in as many games and finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Sophomore guard D'Mitrik Trice added 14 points. He hit 2 of 2 3-pointers and 6 of 7 shots overall. Andy Van Vliet added 13 points and three rebounds for UW.
Four other UW players scored at least six points--freshman guard Brad Davison (eight), redshirt freshman forward Aleem Ford (seven), freshman guard Kobe King (seven) and sophomore guard Brevin Pritzl (six).
Yale was again without senior guard Makai Mason (foot), the Ivy preseason player of the year, and sophomore forward Jordan Bruner (knee).
“We start the season off on the road in these two environments that if we’re 100 percent healthy and playing our best it’s going to be difficult,” said Yale coach James Jones, whose team opened with a 92-76 loss at Creighton. "It’s difficult for us, but that’s what we signed up for. No one is feeling sorry for us. It’s not like the guys from Wisconsin said: ‘Oh, poor Yale. They don’t have two starters. Let’s take it easy on them.’
“We have to come out and play.”