There were no surprises this time around.
Four players scored in double figures, led by Brad Davison’s career-high 19 points, as the Wisconsin Badgers breezed past the UW-Milwaukee Panthers, 71-49, on Friday night at the Kohl Center.
Ethan Happ added 14, Brevin Pritzl 12 and D’Mitrik Trice 10 as UW rode a 60 percent shooting performance in the second half. The Badgers hit 8 of 11 3-pointers in the decisive 20 minutes to snap their three-game losing streak.
UW shot an even 50 percent overall and 52.6 percent (10 for 19) from beyond the arc overall while out-rebounding the undersized Panthers, 37-25.
UWM got 10 points and seven rebounds from Bryce Nze, and nine points apiece from Brock Stull, Bryce Barnes and Jeremiah Bell. The Panthers knocked down just 1 of 11 3-pointers and 2 of 8 free throws and lost despite shooting a respectable 45.1 percent.
It was the teams’ first meeting since Dec. 9, 2015, when the Panthers stunned the Badgers, 68-67, to win for just the second time in 33 games in the series.
“We got better as the game went on with some execution things on both ends of the floor,” UW coach Greg Gard said. “I really liked how we approached it and how we played.
“Knowing these in-state games, having been on the other side of it for a couple years and now having been on this side of it for quite a while, I understand the importance and the relevance of it, and what it means to Milwaukee, what it means for us, and obviously, the game of basketball in the state.”
The game turned on a 13-2 Badgers run that spanned the final 3 minutes 35 seconds of the first half and the first 3:48 of the second.
Five players contributed over that span for UW, with Davison’s layup stretching the Badgers’ advantage to 34-23 with 16:24 remaining.
A runner by Stull on the ensuing possession finally got UWM onto the board. But UW answered with a Happ layup and then the backbreaker, a long 3-pointer from the left wing from Kobe King as the shot clock expired that gave the Badgers their biggest lead to that point at 39-25.
UW steadily distanced itself from UWM the rest of the way, with three 3s— two from Trice sandwiched around another from Davison, who was making just his second collegiate start—helping the cause.
Davison hit three more 3s down the stretch before exiting to a nice ovation with 2:01 left. He hit 7 of 8 shots overall and 5 of his 6 3-point attempts while also chipping in four rebounds in 28 minutes.
“I recruited him as an assistant at Northwestern. I know all about him,” said Baldwin, now in his first season at the helm of the Panthers. “We were in a battle with Wisconsin for him. He’s a really, really good player, and he didn’t take me by surprise.”
For Baldwin, the loss came down to his team’s failure to knock down shots and to keep the Badgers off the glass on the offensive end.
“We had open shots tonight. They contested some of them, but we just didn’t knock them down,” Baldwin said. “For us to go 1 for 11 (from 3), I think that stands out.
“Then we lost track of some guys—they were 10 of 19 from 3 and they had 19 second-chance points, and I would guess that four (of those second chances) came after they got the offensive rebound and kicked out for 3s.”
All three of UW’s losses coming in were to top-25 programs in games it was tied or within two points with 2:00 to go.
A back-and-forth first half saw the Panthers hang tough despite being out-manned by the bigger Badgers. UWM was even as late as the 5:01 mark, on Stull’s first basket of the game, before the Badgers used a 7-2 run to head into halftime with a 28-23 lead.
Bell’s fallaway jumper at the buzzer kept the Panthers from being blanked over that final stretch.
Helping the Panthers were high-percentage shots from East Troy graduate Brett Prahl, who scored UWM’s first six points and eight in all on perfect 4-for-4 shooting in 16 first-half minutes.
There was one noteworthy personnel move made in the early going by UW coach Greg Gard, who burned the redshirt of 6-foot-10 freshman forward Nate Reuvers by inserting him into the game at the 14:31 mark.
Reuvers played seven minutes in the first half and wasn’t shy, taking five shots and missing them all. He played 14 minutes in all and while he finished 0 for 6 from the floor he did contribute six rebounds and a pair of assists.
“He just brings dimension that we really need,” said Gard, whose team faces another stiff challenge at Virginia in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Monday.
“He can help this team. We discussed it for a couple weeks: ‘What are we going to do?’ Until we came to a final decision, he was obviously going to sit and not play. But I needed to see and evaluate not only his progression but where we were at in that spot or on the front line with other people.”