By Luke Meredith, AP Sports Writer
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The matchup between the resurgent Badgers and Hawkeyes lived up to its billing — with Wisconsin sophomore D’Mitrik Trice stepping up to hit the game’s biggest basket after star Ethan Happ fouled out.
Trice scored 20 points, including a crucial 3 with 20 seconds left, and 22nd-ranked Wisconsin held off No. 14 Iowa 72-66 on Friday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
Ethan Happ had 13 points, seven boards and five assists for the Badgers (7-1), who handed the Hawkeyes their first loss of the season in a back-and-forth affair.
“To come in here and to be able to get this one in league play in November, I think it shows some signs that we’re trending in the right direction,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said.
With the Badgers up 65-63, Trice — who led the nation at 60 percent on 3s entering play — hit his 3-pointer just after Happ picked up his fifth foul. Jordan Bohannon answered with a quick 3 for Iowa (6-1), but Wisconsin was able to seal it at the line.
The presence of Trice, who missed the last 23 games in 2017-18 because of a foot injury, has keyed Wisconsin’s hot start after a disappointing season a year ago.
“With him out, it was kind of tough because we relied on pretty much Brad (Davison) and myself to kind of bail us out of situations,” Happ said about Trice. “In that situation where we needed a big bucket, he took it and made it.”
Freshman Joe Wieskamp blocked Trice’s 3-point try and turned it into a 3-point play and a 61-60 Iowa lead on other end. Brevin Pritzl got open in the corner though, burying a huge 3 with 1:35 left to put Wisconsin back up by 2. Happ then got around Iowa’s Luka Garza for a scoop to make it 65-61 with 51 seconds left.
Iowa opened the second half on a 16-9 run and led by as much as eight, but Wisconsin had it back even at 54-all with just over 8 minutes left.
Tyler Cook had 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for the Hawkeyes, who were just 6 of 24 on 3s.
“We didn’t some things down the stretch that we wanted to do. We also did some things we wanted to do…just didn’t make the basket. That’s frustrating,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
THE BIG PICTURE:
Iowa: The Hawkeyes, much like they did in Tuesday’s 69-68 win over Pittsburgh, have shown the ability to fight when things don’t always go their way. That trait was AWOL in 2017-18, when they went 4-14 in the regular season in the Big Ten. “I thought we fought,” McCaffery said.
Wisconsin: The Badgers acquitted themselves well in what will likely go down as one of the toughest environments they’ll play in all season — and Trice continues to be a revelation.
Wisconsin will likely jump a few spots, and Iowa — after struggling to put away Pitt — should tumble at least a few spots.
Iowa center Luka Garza had 11 points but just three rebounds, and Bohannon finished with 11 points for the Hawkeyes. …Ptitzl’s 3 was just his second of the game. He had 12 points. …Outside of Trice, who was 4 of 8 on 3s, the Badgers were just 4 of 16 beyond the arc. …Iowa had just nine assists on 23 made baskets. …Davison had nine points and four rebounds for Wisconsin — but the Badgers were a team high plus-12 when he was on the floor.
Iowa broadcaster Gary Dolphin served the first of a two-game suspension for negative comments directed at Hawkeyes guard Maishe Dailey that inadvertently made it to the air during a commercial break on Tuesday. Athletic director Gary Barta told reporters on Friday that Dolphin, who has doing Hawkeyes games for over 20 years, will be back for Thursday’s home game against Iowa State after discussions between himself, Dolphin and McCaffery. “I’m comfortable with where we’re at,” Barta said. “He made a mistake, and fortunately we worked through it.” Dolphin also apologized again Friday on Twitter, saying among other things that “this is on me and nobody else.”
Iowa plays at No. 9 Michigan State on Monday.
Wisconsin hosts Rutgers on Monday.
© 2018, The Village Reporter and/or The Associated Press. All rights reserved.