MADISON – A season of high expectations if off and running for the University of Wisconsin
Senior Bronson Koenig scored a team-high 16 points to lead the ninth-ranked Badgers to a 79-47 victory over Central Arkansas in the season opener Friday night.
Shooting 47.2 percent from the floor, Wisconsin (1-0) won its season opener for the 14th time in the last 15 seasons while staying a perfect 6-0 against teams from the Southland Conference.
Nigel Hayes added 14 points, Zak Showalter had 10 and Ethan Happ had eight points and nine rebounds, as head coach Greg Gard played 10 different players in the first half on opening night.
A two-point game midway through the first half, Wisconsin went on an 11-0 run that was punctuated by 3-pointers by freshman guard D’Mitrik Trice on consecutive possessions.
UW started the second half with an 11-3 run, including two 3s and eight points from Hayes to extend its lead to 45-25. Wisconsin kept boosting the second-half lead in part because of the perimeter shot.
Since starting out 1 of 10 from 3-point range, UW made 10 of its final 19. Koenig hit four while three other players had at least two.
A year after 17th-ranked Wisconsin allowed Western Illinois to shoot 54 percent from the field, hit 7 of 9 from 3-point range and outscored them 30-20 in the paint to pull a 69-67 shocker, the Badgers were much better defensively against the Bears.
Holding Central Arkansas (0-1) to only one field goal over the final 7:13 of the first half and one basket over the first 7:09 of the second half, Wisconsin limited the visitors to 28.3 percent from the floor and forced 12 turnovers.
Junior guard Derrick Brooks led the Bears with 12 points, while first-team All-Southland Conference selection Jordan Howard finished with 10 points on just 2-for-11 shooting.
Wisconsin hits the road next with a matchup against No.22 Creighton in Omaha, Neb., on Tuesday night.
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