Three games into his final season with the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team, Ethan Happ keeps finding new ways to dominate the headlines.
The senior center followed up a triple-double in the opener against Coppin State with a monster performance during a win at Xavier a week later.
He authored another masterpiece Saturday night at the Kohl Center, becoming the program’s all-time leader in rebounds while leading the Badgers to a 96-59 victory over Houston Baptist.
Happ finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in 25 minutes to help UW improve to 3-0 for the first time since the 2014-15 season. His sixth rebound of the game was No. 905 for his career, moving him past Claude Gregory on the Badgers’ all-time list.
“It’s special to set yourself apart at such a storied school like Wisconsin with so many great players that have come through here, in any category,” Happ said. “It’s definitely special to me, but also just glad we got the win.”
Junior guard Brevin Pritzl added 17 points and sophomore forward Nate Reuvers had a career-high 15 as the Badgers shot 60.3 percent from the field in a tuneup before they leave Monday for the Bahamas. UW opens play in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday with a quarterfinal game against Stanford.
The Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Houston Baptist Huskies, 96-59, Saturday night at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Sophomore guard Ian DuBose finished with a game-high 18 points for the Huskies (1-2), who won only six games last season.
The Badgers relied heavily on three players in their 77-68 win at Xavier on Tuesday night, with Happ, D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison combining for all but six of the team’s points.
There was much more balance this time around.
The Badgers had nine players in the scoring column before the midway point of the first half and ended up with five players in double figures.
Trice finished with 12 points – he had three 3-pointers, pushing his total to 13 on the season – and senior forward Charlie Thomas chipped in 10.
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“It definitely helps our team out whenever we have multiple scoring options,” Happ said. “I know at Xavier, everyone made a big deal out of the three guys scoring, but we know that’s just how it played out that game. We know we have a lot of legitimate options that can do a lot of things offensively.”
Reuvers was aggressive right from the start, making a reverse layup on UW’s third possession and a 3-pointer the next time down the court.
He finished 5 of 8 from the field and 4 of 5 from the free throw line to top his previous high of 13 points, set last season at Maryland.
“It’s always fun to score points, but I’ve just got to do what this team needs,” said Reuvers, who didn’t have any points or rebounds in 17 minutes at Xavier. “I can post up inside or step outside and shoot and I’m going to have times when I get a bunch of looks and other times when I don’t, but I’ve just got to take advantage of those.”
UW shot 66.7 percent in the first half to build a 50-24 lead at the break.
The Badgers pounded the ball inside against the outmatched Huskies. UW produced 32 points in the paint by halftime and attempted only six 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes.
Happ tied Gregory when he collected a miss by Davison and scored on a putback just over 5 minutes into the game. He moved to the top of the list when he grabbed a Houston Baptist miss with 9:38 remaining in the first half.
During a stop in play a few minutes later, Happ received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Later, Happ grabbed a loose ball and made a spinning move to get around a defender in the backcourt. He dribbled the rest of the way and sent a behind-the-back pass to Trice in the corner for a 3-point attempt that missed.
Happ delivered another behind-the-back pass later in the second half to Thomas, who missed a baseline jumper.
“He’s a unique type of player because he doesn’t shoot from the perimeter at all but yet he just tears you up inside and he’s so fundamentally sound and he sees the floor,” said Houston Baptist coach Ron Cottrell, who’s in his 28th season at the school.
“He’s just a smart, solid basketball player who just understands how to play the game so well, and (has) such a high IQ. We’ve played against some really, really good players, but none quite like him.”