Happ leads Wisconsin over Chicago State, 82-70
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin coach Greg Gard says the Badgers have little margin for error with the players they’re missing.
It showed Wednesday as the Badgers beat Chicago State 82-70 in a closer-than-expected contest.
The Cougars (2-14) have now lost 10 straight and nine of their losses on the season have been by an average of 38 points. But Gard said the Badgers (7-7) were too inconsistent defensively, giving Chicago State confidence.
“We haven’t become complete yet in terms of putting 40 solid minutes together,” Gard said.
The Badgers lost guards D’Mitrik Trice and Kobe King earlier this month to injuries, but it had looked in Wisconsin’s previous two wins as if the new rotations were starting to gel.
Still, Chicago State closed to 62-52 on Deionte Simmons’ putback with eight minutes left before Wisconsin found its footing defensively. The Badgers forced turnovers on the next two Cougars possession and registered blocks on the following three to push the lead back to 68-52.
Simmons, who led Chicago State with 19 points, fouled out during that stretch, and Wisconsin kept the lead in double digits the rest of the way.
Ethan Happ scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead five Badgers in double figures for scoring. He said the offense is not the problem.
“It’s lapses,” said Happ, who had his 24th career double-double. “We’re good for stretches, and then one thing turns into another. One mistake turns into another one, and they go on runs. That’s just something if we’re going to beat good teams that can’t happen.”
Considering some of their losses — to Purdue by 69 and Northwestern by 65 — this was a much stronger showing by the Cougars against a Power 5 team. But it’s still their 10th straight loss.
Chicago State wasn’t supposed to be the stiffest competition. So with point guard D’Mitrik Trice out indefinitely and guard Kobe King out for the season, the Cougars looked like an opportunity to keep building chemistry with the altered rotations. Instead, it showed the Badgers are still a work in progress, especially without Trice, who is expected to begin rehab from his foot surgery in two to three weeks.
Wisconsin guard Brad Davison, who has battled shoulder injuries this season, left the game twice after it flared up, thought he wasn’t out long either time. He grabbed his shoulder early in the game after getting entangled trying to defend a pick-and-roll. But he immediately hit a 3-pointer after coming back. Late in the second half, he hurt it again as he was fouled while driving and left the game. Khalil Iverson shot the free throws for him, making one. Davison, who scored 15 points, also caught an elbow in the head later in the first half. Montana Byrd was assessed a flagrant foul, and Davison hit both free throws.
Wisconsin had a decided advantage at the line, especially with 24 fouls called in the second half. The Badgers, who committed 16 fouls for the game, were 23 of 32 from the line (71.9 percent), compared with 15 of 18 (83.3 percent) for Chicago State, which was called for 24.
The Cougars are at Western Michigan Saturday.
The Badgers host UMass Lowell on Saturday.