(13) Wisconsin 73, Rhode Island 62: Last word

No. 13 Wisconsin held off a late flurry from Rhode Island to beat the Rams 73-62 in a foul-filled Wednesday afternoon game at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Brad Davison

The senior guard was pretty much the only one that could get anything to fall in the first half when he outscored Rhode Island by himself 17-16. He hit the first three shots he took — all 3-pointers — as Wisconsin built a double-digit lead at the break.

Davison did all of his damage in the second half from the foul line where he went 6-for-6 and finished the game 12-for-12. He’s just the 11th player in Wisconsin history to go 12-for-12 or better from the line.

The good: The first-half defense

The Badgers have the potential to be a very good team on defense and the first half was a good example of it. Rhode Island coach David Cox admitted it took until after the first 20 minutes for his team to settle in. The Rams shot just 25.9% from the field and scored only 16 points. Their previous low in a half this year was 31. Cox, in his third year with Rhode Island, said the Badgers were the best defensive team they’d faced this year or last.

The not so good: Second half struggles

Wisconsin has won four games this year and three of them have featured sluggish play after halftime. That was again the case Wednesday as the Badgers watched their 22-point lead get trimmed to the single digits in the final minutes. Part of it was untimely turnovers, part it was struggling to score and part of it was what coach Greg Gard called unnecessary fouls. The lack of consistency from a veteran team shouldn’t be among the issues Gard is dealing with this season but he is.

Stat of the Game: 48

That’s how many fouls the two teams combined for — 26 by Rhode Island and 22 by Wisconsin. It was the second-straight game the Badgers had 20-plus fouls, the first time that’s happened since January 2019.

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In Case You Missed It

— Nate Reuvers needed one block to set the school record and got it midway through the first half. It gave him 155 in his career, bypassing Ethan Happ’s 154. Reuvers added two more and now has 157.

— D’Mitrik Trice was honored before the game with ball that noted he became the first player in UW history to have 1,000 points, 300 rebounds and 300 assists by the end of his junior season. He accomplished the feat during Wisconsin’s season-ending win at Indiana last March.

— Rhode Island’s leading scorer coming in was Fatts Russell at 17.6 points per game. Led by Trice’s effort, Wisconsin limited him to eight points on 3 of 14 shooting.

— Wisconsin hosted Rhode Island on short notice due to COVID-19 concerns within the Louisville program. The Badgers had been scheduled to play the Cardinals as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The two sides hope to rescheduled that game for this weekend.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (4-1) will play somebody at some point.