Davison, Happ help Wisconsin cruise past Green Bay 81-60
MADISON — The statistic that jumps off the page for Wisconsin’s Brad Davison is that the freshman guard has taken 15 charges in 13 games this season.
The mark is one shy of the career high for the Badgers program, which has been officially charting charges for six seasons. Former guard Zak Showalter holds the record with 16 during the 2015-16 season.
Davison scored 18 points and took two charges in 28 minutes during Wisconsin’s 81-60 nonconference win over Green Bay on Saturday night.
The true freshman preferred to overlook the fact that he’s got a brace on his left shoulder from an injury suffered last month in a Nov. 20 loss to Baylor, and reinjured one week later in a setback to Virginia.
Davison, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Maple Grove, Minn., is second in team scoring at 11.8 points per game. He plays with pain when landing on the shoulder awkwardly, or when it’s pulled a certain way.
“I forget about it, get it out of my mind and go out there and play the game that I love to play, the way that I love to play it,” Davison said. “I have no problem playing through the pain.”
Junior forward Ethan Happ scored 14 points in the victory that boosted the Badgers to a 20-0 home record against Green Bay.
Davison scored 13 first-half points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Happ shot 7 of 9 from the field and had 8 rebounds to lift the Badgers (6-7) to their second straight win.
The Phoenix (5-8) went without a field goal — missing nine tries — over the final 11:42 of the first half. Green Bay senior guard Khalil Small scored baskets on consecutive possessions to trim Wisconsin’s lead to 44-24 at the break.
Junior Sandy Cohen III, a transfer from Marquette, scored a team-high 12 points for the Phoenix, who shot 40 percent overall. Small delivered 12 points and freshman guard PJ Pipes, a reserve, scored 11 points for Green Bay.
Green Bay’s starters never got into a rhythm on offense. The Phoenix got 29 points off the bench. They also were woeful on defense, allowing the Badgers to shoot 61 percent from the field.
Wisconsin junior forward Khalil Iverson delivered 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting. He also had two assists and two blocks.
Not only did Wisconsin outrebound Green Bay 40-20, it also dominated in the paint, 46-14.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said Davison did a good job attacking and getting to the rim on Saturday. “His defense is pretty advanced for a freshman,” Gard said. “As he gets older, his body will change and hopefully he’ll become more athletic where he can extend a little bit and guard quicker guys.”
Davison has shown mettle on defense similar to Showalter and Josh Gasser, who were known for their tenacious style.
Gard said Davison has the willingness to play tough compared to Showalter, Gasser, and even Mike Kelley, who played at Wisconsin from 1997 to 2000, and was part of the Badgers’ Final Four team in 2000.
“There’s a skillset to it in being a good defender, but also a mindset. They’ve had the same DNA. Tough-minded, have a big heart and are willing to give up their body for their team — as far as taking charges. For Brad, specifically, that’s an added element that helps us, for sure. We need to get more guys to do it.”
Green Bay: The Phoenix have some speed, but were overmatched and undersized against the Badgers. Green Bay needs players willing to crash the boards and be more active underneath the basket. The team had only 20 rebounds in the setback against the Badgers.
Wisconsin: Davison is a tough competitor and showed no hesitation, despite wearing a brace on his left shoulder. On a couple first-half possessions, Davison made layups and slid out of bounds on the finishes. He also took a charge and landed on his left shoulder late in the first. Davison shot 6 of 10 from the field for 13 first-half points.
Green Bay: On the road at Detroit Mercy on Dec. 28.
Wisconsin: Hosts Chicago State on Dec. 27.