MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin made more 3-pointers in its game against McNeese than it did in its first two games of the season. But it took the Badgers one half to get going from long range.
Brad Davison scored a game-high 24 points, Aleem Ford added a career-high 16 points and Wisconsin drained 10 3 pointers in its 83-63 win against McNeese on Wednesday night.
Ford, who had two 3-pointers and shot 7 of 11 from the field, said it was a tale of two halves. And as the Badgers (2-1) picked up their defense, the shots went in. Wisconsin shot a season-high 10 of 28 from beyond the arc.
In the Badgers’ first two games, they shot 8 of 27 from long range.
“It started on the defensive end for us, just trying to get more stops,” said Ford. “And then, play inside out and get good looks. I felt like we had some good looks in the first half and they just didn’t fall. But in the second half, they were falling. So, we just tried to stick to it and stay confident in our shot.”
Brevin Pritzl scored 13 points in his first start in two seasons for the Badgers, who won their second straight.
Kobe King, a sophomore wing who scored a career-high 18 points in the Badgers’ victory on Nov. 8 over Eastern Illinois, didn’t play on Wednesday after suffering a left-leg injury in practice on Monday.
Forward Sha’Markus Kennedy scored 18 of his team-high 20 points in the first half and A.J. Lawson added 10 for the Cowboys (1-2).
McNeese coach Heath Schroyer said Wisconsin adjusted after halftime and doubled- and triple-teamed Kennedy.
“I thought they did a really good job staying attached to our shooters,” Schroyer said. “Their length and strength, and ability to close out is really good.
“I thought Sha’Markus had his way in the first half, but they took him away in the second.”
Kennedy scored seven points to pace McNeese State to a 9-2 lead to start the game.
The Badgers missed seven of their first eight shots but went on an 8-0 run — including back-to-back 3-pointers — to tie the game at 10.
Davison hit 3 of 4 from 3-point range and lifted the Badgers out of their shooting slump. His jumper with two seconds before halftime extended Wisconsin’s lead to 37-34.
The Cowboys did a good job containing Wisconsin big man Nate Reuvers in the first half. Reuvers, a 6-foot-11 junior who was often double teamed, scored 10 points in the win.
Reuvers sat the final 6:50 of the first half with two fouls, and picked up his third less than two minutes into the second.
D’Mitrik Trice had a pair of 3-point buckets, and Pritzl added another to increase the Badgers’ lead to start the second.
Wisconsin strung together a 13-3 run that included five straight points from Ford, capped by a layup with 10:36 left to give Wisconsin a 69-52 lead.
Walt McGrory, a reserve guard, scored a career-high nine points for Wisconsin.
The Badgers scored 30 points off 18 McNeese State turnovers.
“If the 3s are there, great, but we kept the ball around the perimeter and didn’t play inside out like we need to do,” Gard said.
“Once we started to do that and attack the press a bit, we were able to loosen up a little bit and make it easier for us in the second half.”
Wisconsin shot 10 of 28 from 3-point range in the victory, including seven 3s in the second half. Five different players drilled baskets from beyond the arc.
McNeese shot 8 of 20 from 3-point range, as five players drained 3-pointers.
McNeese: Kennedy is a force inside for the Cowboys. He made all nine of his shots from the field and 8 of 10 from the foul line.
Wisconsin: Not only did Pritzl play well in his first start in two seasons, the Badgers got critical contributions from reserves McGrory and Tyler Wahl. Those efforts will be needed when Reuvers gets in foul trouble like he did against McNeese State.
McNeese State: Plays at New Mexico on Saturday.
Wisconsin: Host intrastate rival Marquette on Nov. 17.
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