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Wisconsin faces Green Bay with focus on offense

Sportsnaut
Mar 20, 2022; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Tyler Wahl (5) tries to gain control of the ball against Iowa State Cyclones forward Robert Jones (12) and Iowa State Cyclones guard Caleb Grill (2) during the second half in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin will look for offensive consistency when the Badgers host in-state rival Green Bay in a nonconference game on Tuesday night in Madison.

Wisconsin (2-0) is coming off a 60-50 victory over Stanford on Friday in a game played at American Family Field in Milwaukee, the baseball home of the Milwaukee Brewers. Green Bay (0-2) has lost two road games by an average of 30.5 points.

The Badgers are 26-1 all-time vs. Green Bay, including 23-0 in Madison. Wisconsin won the team’s matchup last season 72-34, as the Phoenix shot just 23.5 percent.

Neither Stanford or Wisconsin shot well in the cavernous baseball stadium environment, with the Badgers finishing at 37.3 percent and Stanford at 36.2 percent. But Wisconsin also converted 12 first-half Stanford turnovers into 18 points.

In a season-opening 85-59 victory over South Dakota in Madison, the Badgers’ traditional steady defense also was evident, limiting the Coyotes to 40.4 percent shooting.

Offense has been a different story. The Badgers went almost 6 1/2 minutes without a field goal in the second half against the Cardinal and had only six players in the scoring column.

“We can depend on our ability to guard, rebound, take care of the ball. Those things are non-negotiable as what we want every night,” Gard said. “Then offensively, play free and play relaxed and try to get the best on that possession. But this group knows that our strength is in our toughness and our grittiness, and that’s embedded in the fiber of this program.”

Senior forward Tyler Wahl, one of three returning starters, scored 19 and 17 points in the first two games and is averaging a team-best 7.5 rebounds per game. Sophomore point guard Chucky Hepburn is averaging 12.5 points and four assists, and 7-foot junior forward Steven Crowl adds 10.5 points and seven rebounds.

Jordan Davis, the twin brother of last year’s leading scorer Johnny Davis — the 10th overall pick in the NBA draft by the Washington Wizards — moved into the starting role vs. Stanford and had a career-high 13 points.

Freshman guard Connor Essegian has come off the bench and hit 4 of 7 3-point attempts. Wisconsin was last in the Big Ten last season in 3-point percentage.

Green Bay, 5-25 last season, has struggled in its first two games with a revamped roster, losing 80-53 at Indiana State and then 92-58 at Georgetown on Saturday after trailing by just two at the half.

“We have a lot of new faces this year, in all, 10 new guys,” Green Bay coach Will Ryan, the son of former Badgers coach Bo Ryan, said at conference media day. “We’ve changed some things up. We’re more athletic, we’re quicker in a lot of areas.”

Junior guard Davin Zeigler leads with 13.5 points and six rebounds per game. Guard Zae Blake has come off the bench for 11 points per game.

Opponents are shooting 58.5 percent against the Phoenix, who also have been outrebounded by 11 boards per game.

–Field Level Media