Wisconsin Badgers Blow Out Siena For First Win


Following Friday night’s stunning season-opening loss to Western Illinois, the No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers avoided another upset defeat with a 92-65 victory over the Siena Saints on Sunday night in the Kohl Center.

READ ALSO: Early Growing Pains For Wisconsin Basketball

Bronson Koenig led Wisconsin with 23 points on 8 of 14 from the field. He made three of his six three-point attempts, hit on all four free throws and added four assists and five rebounds for the Badgers.

Wisconsin shot much better than it did against Western Illinois as the Badgers finished with a 58.5 field goal percentage including 41.7 percent from three against Siena. Wisconsin also made 25 of their 30 free throw attempts.

Vitto Brown had a career night for Wisconsin. He did not play very well on Friday night until the final push late in the game, but he looked much more comfortable against Siena. Brown finished with a career-high 16 points, shot 50 percent from the floor and made all six free throw attempts. Brown showed solid midrange jumper ability, and his 7-foot-3 wingspan can make him an elite defender.

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  • Siena came out hot, making seven of its first 11 field goal attempts, but Wisconsin’s defense tightened up as the Saints made just four of its next 17 shots in the first half.

    The Badgers have struggled early this season with guards driving into the lane. The backside help defense has not been there as opponents drive in for a layup. Wisconsin gave up 30 points in the paint against Western Illinois and 34 against Siena.

    Wisconsin’s depth was tested early when Nigel Hayes picked up his second foul with 14:24 left in the first half, forcing him to sit the rest of the half. The young Badgers stepped up and played well. When Hayes exited, Wisconsin led 11-9 and went into the half with a 43-28 advantage capped off by a Zak Showalter put back jam following a Koenig miss in the final seconds.

    Redshirt freshman Ethan Happ sat out for the final 7:48 with foul trouble for the second consecutive game and struggled on the defensive end again. Less than a minute into the second half, he picked up his third and returned to the bench. Happ finished with eight points in just 18 minutes with four fouls. He has the talent to be a special player for the Badgers, but poor defense and foul trouble will limit his minutes.

    Another noteworthy item from the game came when Alex Illikainen entered midway through the first quarter, burning his redshirt. He strongly considered sitting his freshman year, and it seemed like he would make his decision based on the eligibility of Andy Van Vliet. Wisconsin announced it will find out early this week if Van Vliet will be forced to sit out the year, but maybe Bo Ryan knows something we do not.

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    Also, freshman Brevin Pritzl made his Badgers debut in the second half. The sharp-shooting guard had been working on getting into basketball shape after recovering from a broken left foot suffered in early August.

    Wisconsin came out of the locker room and went on a 10-0 run to give the Badgers a 53-28 lead. From there, the Badgers put the game on cruise control.

    The Badgers did not face much trouble against Siena, who suffered another blowout loss following a 92-74 loss to Duke on Friday night. Yes, the Saints opened the season with the two teams that played in the national title game last year. Tough way to start the season.

    Next: Badgers Season Preview: Forwards

    As for Wisconsin, the Badgers bounced back from Friday night’s embarrassing season opener. Wisconsin will host North Dakota on Tuesday night before the semifinal game of the 2K Classic against Georgetown on Friday in Madison Square Garden, followed by a game against either Duke or VCU. A big week coming up for the Badgers.