The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (1-1) got their first win of the season Friday night after getting big performances from Kobe King and Nathan Reuvers against the Eastern Illinois Panthers (0-2).
Before the game, however, was when the real story was highlighted. The Badgers took time to honor assistant coach Howard Moore who recently lost his wife Jen and daughter Jaidyn in a tragic car accident.
Moore is on medical leave but that doesn’t mean the team has forgotten about his impact. They’ll don “Do Moore, Be Moore, 4 Moore” warm-ups all season long to commemorate and did so for the first time in the Kohl Center tonight. Wisconsin even announced Moore’s son Jerrell as a part of the starting lineup, easily receiving the biggest ovation of anyone.
It was an important bounceback game for Wisconsin following a heartbreaking loss against No. 20 St. Mary’s — one where a victory slipped through their fingers.
Right out of the gate, the Badger defense was stifling, holding Eastern Illinois to just 10 points in the first 10 minutes. But sloppiness out of the gate held them back from taking full control for awhile, turning it over five times in their first 19 possessions.
Inspiring first-half performances from King and Reuvers propelled Wisconsin to a 34–27 lead heading into the break.
King showed flashes of why many believe he can be one of the driving forces on this UW roster. The redshirt sophomore was a four-star recruit in high school and reminded everyone why when he threw down a massive one-hand poster over Panther junior Jordan Skipper Ford.
King finished with a career and team high 18 points. This undoubtedly makes you think this may be his breakout season.
Reuvers again showed why he’s considered next in the Kaminsky-Happ bloodline. In the first half alone, he had 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. He carried that momentum into the second half, recording another three blocks in the early stages of the second half and seemed on the hunt for a triple double.
It was an overall dominant performance from Reuvers against the undersized Panthers, whose tallest player stands only six feet seven inches tall. He finished just short of a triple double with 14 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocks.
One thing to watch is D’Mitrik Trice’s availability for McNeese State next Wednesday. He took an elbow to the head and came away with a pretty gruesome gash that had to be stitched up. Eventually he came back and scored four points, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him sit one out.
Wisconsin held their lead sturdily the second half, getting major contributions throughout from Aleem Ford, Brevin Pritzl and Brad Davison. Ford finished with 11, Pritzl nine and Davison eight with four assists.
In what was a must-win for the morale of this team against an inferior Eastern Illinois team, the Badgers held firm and took it home 65-52.
Catch the Badgers at home again next Wednesday as they look to keep it up against the McNeese State Cowboys.