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Wisconsin lands third 2017 commit in point guard Davison

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With Bronson Koenig and Zak Showalter both entering their senior campaign, Wisconsin was in a position where they needed to add depth to the point guard position in the Class of 2017. Monday night they did just that, as 6-foot-3 point guard Brad Davison announced via his Twitter account that he will attend Wisconsin.

Davison is the third commitment in Wisconsin’s 2017 recruiting class, joining fellow guard Kobe King and power forward Nathan Reuvers with Reuvers also being a Minnesota native. A native of Maple Grove, Minnesota, Davison plays his grassroots basketball for the Howard Pulley Panthers program on the Nike EYBL circuit.

“Davison had a tremendous spring and was a big reason Howard Pulley was one of the better teams in the EYBL,” NBC Sports recruiting analyst Scott Phillips said of Wisconsin’s latest commit. “With solid size for a shooter, Davison can knock down perimeter looks and he also had a very sound assist-to-turnover ratio. Davison isn’t a number one option, but he fits Wisconsin’s system and knows how to play basketball. This is another solid get for Wisconsin in the 2017 class.”

Wisconsin did add a point guard in the 2016 class with the late signing of D’Mitrik Trice, the younger brother of former Michigan State guard Travis Trice. But there was still a need for another option who can run the point for Greg Gard’s team, and Davison fits the bill.

Wisconsin removes head coach Greg Gard’s interim tag

Michael P. King/Wisconsin State Journal via AP
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According to a report Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez has identified the man he believes to be the best fit to run the Wisconsin men’s basketball program moving forward: Greg Gard.

It was reported by the Wisconsin State Journal Monday afternoon that Gard will be officially introduced as the head coach Tuesday, with the school’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday night to approve the move. Monday night, the school made the news that Gard would be the head coach official. Gard was a longtime assistant under Bo Ryan, who announced his retirement following a win over Texas A&M Corpus Christi December 15.

Gard took over in an interim role at that point, and after a 1-4 start to Big Ten play the Badgers turned things around in a big way. Wisconsin won 11 of its final 13 Big Ten games, and as the interim head coach Gard put together an overall record of 13-6. The move made by the school to make the listing for the position public a couple weeks ago was seen as a positive sign for Gard, and that appears to have been the case.

The official start date for the job in the posting was March 8, which is Tuesday.

Swanigan, Thompson lead No. 15 Purdue past Wisconsin 91-80

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Freshman Caleb Swanigan scored a career-high 27 points and sophomore P.J. Thompson also set a career best with 22, leading No. 15 Purdue to a 91-80 victory against Wisconsin on Sunday.

A.J. Hammons added 16 points and Vince Edwards had 11 for the Boilermakers (24-7, 12-6), who forced a four-way tie for third place in the Big Ten with Maryland, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Purdue earned the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play in Friday’s second semifinal against an opponent to be determined.

Nigel Hayes led Wisconsin (20-11, 12-6) with 30 points, including 18 in the second half. The Badgers earned the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament and will play Thursday in Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Badgers, who had a four-game winning streak snapped, are the reigning Big Ten Tournament champs.

After Thompson made five first-half 3-pointers, the Badgers were forced to extend their defense and Swanigan, Purdue’s power forward, had a 23-point second half. The Boilermakers will take a three-game winning streak into the Big Ten tourney.

The Boilermakers opened the second half with a three-point play from Swanigan and a steal and dunk from Edwards to seize a 50-39 lead with 18:12 remaining. Swanigan’s layup pushed the advantage to 52-39 at the 17:09 mark.

Purdue shot 63 percent (17 of 27) during the first half and led 45-39 through 20 minutes, getting 15 from Thompson on 5 of 6 from 3-point range.

After Wisconsin, which shot 57.1 percent in the half (16 of 28) took a 29-21 lead, the Boilermakers finished the half outscoring the Badgers 24-10, including six 3-pointers. Purdue also outrebounded Wisconsin 13-7 during the first 20 minutes, when Hayes scores 12 for the Badgers.

TIP-INS

Wisconsin: Entering the Purdue game, the Badgers were 11-1 since a Jan. 12 loss at Northwestern, losing only at second-ranked Michigan State on Feb. 18. … In its eight most recent games, Wisconsin is 72 of 175 from 3-point range (41.1 percent), averaging nine made 3s in those eight contests. … The Badgers have won 20 games for a 10th consecutive season and have won at least 12 Big Ten games for a seventh consecutive year.

Purdue: The Boilermakers’ non-starters outscored the opponent’s bench in 28 of the first 30 games. … Entering the Wisconsin game, center A.J, Hammons had scored in double figures 11 consecutive times … The Boilermakers’ 46.5 field goal percentage is the program’s best since the 1997-98 team shot 48.4 percent. … Purdue entered having won 22 of its last 23 home games.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin: Big Ten Tournament, TBA

Purdue: Big Ten Tournament, TBA

AUDIO: Former Badger Kaminsky expresses support for Greg Gard

Michael P. King/Wisconsin State Journal via AP
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With the University of Wisconsin formally posting its head basketball coach opening on Friday, athletic director Barry Alvarez has taken the next step in the process of naming a successor for the retired Bo Ryan. Under state law, which is common for public institutions, before a hire can be made the position needs to be posted publicly and there have to be multiple interviews of candidates.

Does this mean that interim head coach Greg Gard will be the choice? That remains anyone’s guess, but the timing is seen by many as a positive development for the coach who has led the Badgers to nine wins in their last ten games. Gard, who served as Ryan’s assistant throughout the latter’s tenure in Madison, certainly has his supporters with one being former Wisconsin big man Frank Kaminsky.

Kaminsky discussed the matter on his “Year One” radio show that he co-hosts with Justin Termine on Sirius/XM NBA Radio, noting that he’s “going to be very upset if [Gard] does not have the job come next year.”

Termine:  “And just by talking to other people is that the direction a lot of the former players want them to go in, with Greg Gard?”

Kaminsky:  “Yeah, absolutely.  It’s what everyone wants.  It’s what everyone’s always wanted.  That’s why he stuck around for so long.  I mean, he definitely had opportunities to take other head coaching jobs, he just didn’t want to do it because he wanted this job.  And now he’s done it and now he’s doing very well with it and I think he deserves to keep it moreso than anyone else.  You’d hate to have some tradition that he and Coach Ryan built together just be handed to someone else.”

After losing four of its first five Big Ten games, Wisconsin’s now 10-5 in conference play after picking up a 67-59 win at No. 8 Iowa Wednesday night. Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig have led the way, but the strides made by players such as forward Ethan Happ and Vitto Brown have been just as important for the Badgers. That’s helped Wisconsin, which at one point this season appeared destined for the NIT, develop into a team capable of having success in next month’s NCAA tournament.

Wisconsin beats No. 8 Iowa, continuing recent hot streak

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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As one of the Big Ten’s most improved players, Iowa’s Peter Jok has become a primary offensive option alongside Jarrod Uthoff for one of the conference’s best teams. And in the first half of Wednesday’s game against Wisconsin the junior was nearly unstoppable, scoring 17 of Iowa’s 34 first-half points. Wisconsin needed to slow him down in order to win, and thanks in large part to the defense of Zak Showalter the Badgers managed to do just that.

Jok scored just four points in the second stanza thanks to Showalter, and thanks to contributions throughout the lineup Wisconsin produced a 67-59 victory in Iowa City. At one point 9-9 on the season (1-4 in Big Ten play), Wisconsin’s now won nine of its last ten games. And at 10-5 in conference play Greg Gard’s team is still a factor in the Big Ten title race, something that few envisioned for this team six weeks ago.

Bronson Koenig scored 15 points and Nigel Hayes ten, and while they’ve matured throughout the season so has the rest of the roster. The role players made the difference Wednesday night, be it Showalter with his defense or reserves such as Charlie Thomas and Khalil Iverson providing a needed spark off the bench. Wisconsin received 23 points from its bench compared to four for Iowa, and that combined with Wisconsin’s defense was the difference.

Jok was quiet in the second half thanks to Showalter, and Wisconsin also limited Jarrod Uthoff to 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting. Earlier in the season Iowa was receiving points from a host of players, so even with Uthoff playing at an All-American level and Jok not far behind Fran McCaffery’s team proved incredibly difficult to slow down offensively. That hasn’t been the case of late, one reason why Iowa’s lost three of its last four games.

If Iowa, which now trails Indiana by a game in the Big Ten standings, is to win the conference title it will need more from the likes of Mike Gesell (four points, 2-for-9 FG) and Dom Uhl (two points, 1-for-4 shooting) than they’ve received in recent games.

With its defense Wisconsin made those players beat them, and Iowa couldn’t get it done. Hayes and Koenig will continue to lead the way for the Badgers as this team approaches the NCAA tournament. But the reason why Wisconsin will hear its name called when the field is announced, not to mention be a threat to win once there, is the fact that the players who aren’t the headliners have improved throughout the course of the season.

And that’s a credit to the players and their head coach, who continues to strengthen his case to have the interim tag removed.

SUNDAY’S SNACKS: No. 6 Maryland survives, bubble teams avoid bad losses

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GAME OF THE DAY: Colgate 93, Loyola (MD) 90 (OT)

An Austin Tillotson half-court shot as time expired gave the Raiders a three-point win on Senior Day. Tillotson, who finished with 20 points, hit the game-winner just seconds after Loyola’s Andre Walker tied the game at 90 with a three-pointer of his own. Walker finished with 22 points and Eric Laster 26 for the Greyhounds, with Colgate also receiving solid performances from Alex Ramon, Sean O’Brien (18 points apiece) and Tom Rivard (17 points).

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 6 Maryland 86, Michigan 82: The Terrapins had their struggles with turnovers and dealing with Michigan’s Mark Donnal in ball screen situations, but they were able to do enough to pull out the victory in College Park. Robert Carter Jr. scored 17 points and Jake Layman 16 to lead the way for the Terrapins, who ended a two-game losing streak in the process. Donnal scored 22 of his 25 in the second half for the Wolverines, who once again played without the injured Caris LeVert.

Utah 80, USC 69: The Runnin’ Utes handed USC its first home loss of the season, becoming the first Pac-12 team to pick up two road weekend sweeps in conference play this season (they also swept the Washington trip). Jakob Poeltl was too much for USC, as he accounted for 29 points on 11-for-13 shooting, 13 rebounds, four assists and four steals. Jordan McLaughlin scored 20 points and Julian Jacobs and Bennie Boatwright 17 apiece for USC, but they were unable to mount a charge similar to their comeback from a 15-point deficit to beat Colorado Wednesday night.

Seton Hall 62, St. John’s 61: It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Pirates managed to avoid a really bad loss as Isaiah Whitehead hit two free throws with 5.6 seconds remaining. Desi Rodriguez scored 24 points and Khadeen Carrington 12 as the Pirates navigated front court foul trouble (three big men fouled out) in the second half. Kassoum Yakwe led the Red Storm with 16 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Wichita State 84, Indiana State 51: The Shockers wrapped up the outright Missouri Valley regular season title with a blowout win over the Sycamores. Ron Baker scored 14 points and three other Wichita State players added 11 apiece, and on the other end the Shockers limited Indiana State to just 31 percent shooting. Wichita State closes out the regular season with games against Loyola (Chicago) and Illinois State.

STARRED

Jakob Poeltl, Utah: 29 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and four steals in Utah’s 80-69 win at USC.

Obi Enechionyia, Temple: 26 points on 10-for-20 shooting and seven rebounds in the Owls’ three-point win at Houston.

Alec Peters, Valparaiso: 32 points and 11 rebounds in the Crusaders’ 90-74 win over Detroit.

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin: 20 points, 12 rebounds and six steals in the Badgers’ 69-60 win over Illinois.

STRUGGLED

Boston College: The Eagles’ season may have hit its nadir Sunday night, as they lost 74-48 at Wake Forest. At one point Jim Christian’s team trailed 37-4.

Khristian Smith, Indiana State: Two points on 1-for-9 shooting in the Sycamores’ 84-51 loss to Wichita State.

James Ford, Quinnipiac: Four points on 1-for-7 shooting and three turnovers in the Bobcats’ 63-59 loss to Manhattan.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 21 SMU rebounded from its loss at UConn with a 74-63 win over East Carolina. Nic Moore led the Mustangs with 22 points and seven assists, Markus Kennedy added 19 points and nine boards and Jordan Tolbert posted a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • Bucknell (12-4) maintained their one-game lead atop the Patriot League with an 80-59 win over Boston University. Chris Hass scored 21 points and Stephen Brown accounted for ten assists and six rebounds in the win for the Bison.
  • George Washington avoided what would have been a bad loss, as they blew out La Salle 90-50 in the nation’s capital. The Colonials won big despite committing 19 turnovers, with Tyler Cavanaugh scoring 22 points and Patricio Garino 19.
  • Monmouth rebounded from its loss to Iona with an 82-75 overtime win at Saint Peter’s. Micah Seaborn scored 26 points and Justin Robinson 22 for the Hawks (15-3), who lead Iona (13-4) by a game in the loss column atop the MAAC standings.
  • Valparaiso won for the eighth time in the last nine games, beating Detroit 90-74 on Senior Day. Alec Peters led the way with 32 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Hofstra (12-4) held off Northeastern, 65-60 in Hempstead to remain a game behind first-place UNCW (13-3) in the CAA. The Pride visit UNCW Thursday night in the teams’ penultimate game of the regular season.
  • San Diego State wrapped up at least a share of the Mountain West title with a 78-56 win over San JosĂ© State. Winston Shepard accounted for 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and Malik Pope added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
  • UAB retained sole possession of first place in Conference USA with a ten-point win (77-67) at Middle Tennessee. Dirk Williams scored 19 points for the Blazers, who lead Marshall by a game.
  • Temple remains alone atop the American, as they won 69-66 at Houston. Obi Enechionyia scored 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds, helping the Owls account for a 2-for-12 night from Quenton DeCosey.
  • Wisconsin turned their game around with a 15-0 second half run, as they beat Illinois 69-60 in Madison. Ethan Happ led the way with 20 points, 12 rebounds and six steals.
  • California won its fifth straight game, beating Washington State 80-62 in Pullman. Six players scored at least eight points for Cal, with Tyrone Wallace scoring 17 and Ivan Rabb 15.