After a pair of lopsided victories, the competition gets much tougher for Wisconsin on Monday when the Badgers host Providence in the Gavitt Tipoff Games in Madison, Wis., which matches teams from the Big Ten and Big East.
Wisconsin (2-0) routed in-state rival Green Bay 72-34 on Friday after dominating St. Francis Brooklyn 81-58 in the opener.
Providence (2-0) rolled past Sacred Heart 92-64 on Thursday after holding off Fairfield 80-73 in the first game.
Providence, picked to finish seventh in the Big East preseason poll, is led by 6-foot-10 graduate center Nate Watson, a unanimous first-team all-Big East selection in the preseason. Watson had 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting against Fairfield, along with six rebounds and four blocks. He had 18 points and 10 rebounds vs. Sacred Heart.
Watson will provide a test for Wisconsin’s 7-foot sophomore center Steven Crowl, who had 18 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes against out-sized Green Bay.
Crowl, who totaled just eight points in 12 games last season, had 11 points and eight rebounds vs. St. Francis. Chris Vogt, a 7-foot graduate transfer from Cincinnati, is averaging about 15 minutes per game for the Badgers.
Sophomore guard Johnny Davis, a top reserve last season, has scored 15 points in each of Wisconsin’s first two games. Fifth-year senior guard Brad Davison and forward Tyler Wahl are the only returning starters.
Point guard Chucky Hepburn is the first true freshman to start for the Badgers since eventual NBA standout Devin Harris in 2001. Hepburn had 13 points in the opener, but just three against Green Bay, making 1 of 5 shots.
Wisconsin held its first two opponents to just 32.5 percent shooting and is averaging 18.5 points off turnovers.
“I think this group understands and embraces the importance of that end of the floor,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said, “and did a lot of really good things.”
Providence led Sacred Heart by just seven points at halftime before pulling away with a 49-28 the second half.
“There was no adjustment that we made other than an attitude,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “And this is what young men don’t understand, when you’re playing at this level, it’s all about how hard you play, it’s all about paying attention to detail and not being afraid to make mistakes. And, I thought we did that in the second half and I thought that was the difference.”
In addition to Watson, Al Durham (15.0), Noah Horchler (10.5), and A.J. Reeves (10.0) each is scoring in double figures.
Providence is 3-1 all-time against the Badgers. They last met in 1996, when the Friars won 59-57.
–Field Level Media