By JR Ross, Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — With only one starter back, one of the big questions for Wisconsin heading into the season was who would fill the void.
The early going suggests the Badgers will have plenty of options.
Khalil Iverson, held scoreless in Wisconsin’s season debut two days earlier, led the Badgers with 17 points Sunday as they cruised to an 89-61 win over Yale. As with their season opener, the Badgers had four players in double figures
“I’m a big fan of the way we’ve been playing,” said Ethan Happ, who added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Badgers. “Going into this season, there were a lot of people saying, ‘Who’s going to step up this year?’ et cetera. I’m just very happy to say it’s a lot of different guys.”
Facing a difficult task on the road, it didn’t help the Bulldogs were again without senior captain Makai Mason, who missed all of last year and has yet to get in a game this season, and 6-foot, 9-inch Jordan Brunch.
Wisconsin overpowered Yale from the start, opening up its first lead of more than 20 points in the waning minutes of the opening half, and had a 46-30 advantage in the paint.
Yale Coach James Jones said the Bulldogs were trying to double Happ to keep the ball out of his hands and his players out of foul trouble. But it opened up opportunities for other guys, and the Bulldogs faced foul trouble anyway. They were whistled for 26 fouls and put Wisconsin on the line 26 times with the Badgers converting 20.
Jones said it would have been difficult to play at Wisconsin even if the Bulldogs were at 100 percent.
Blake Reynolds led Yale with 14 points.
“It’s not like the guys from Wisconsin said, ‘Poor Yale, let’s take it easy on them,'” Jones said.
Not only did Iverson not score Friday, he didn’t take a shot. Coach Greg Gard said Iverson was likely impacted by the anniversary of his father’s death Nov. 9, 2014, from a heart attack. But he believes Iverson looked more like himself Sunday.
D’Mitrik Trice scored 14 for Wisconsin, while Andy Van Vliet had 13.
“We’re not where we need to be yet,” Gard said. “But in term of the versatility and unselfishness of this group, that’s very evident.”
Yale: Two days after allowing Creighton to shoot nearly 60 percent in a 92-76 loss, the Bulldogs weren’t as generous with Wisconsin, which shot 51 percent, even if the result was more lopsided.
Wisconsin: The Badgers replace four starters from a team that went to the Sweet 16, bringing back 38 percent of their points scored last season and 39 percent of the minutes played. The competition will get tougher in short order. But coupled with Friday’s 85-50 win, there are signs they will have more than just Happ, the only returning starter, and Trice, who logged 18 minutes a game last season as a key reserve, as scoring options.
Happ’s 22 double doubles is tied for eighth on Wisconsin’s all-time list, and he needs one more to move into a tie for seventh. Joe Franklin has the school record with 47 while playing for the Badgers for three seasons from 1965-68.
Yale: The Bulldogs host South Carolina State on Tuesday.
Wisconsin: The Badgers host No. 17 Xavier on Thursday as part of the Gavitt Games, an annual matchup of Big East and Big Ten teams.