Forward Aaron Moesch got the call last Tuesday at Illinois and responded with three offensive rebounds in four first-half minutes. On Sunday it was Brevin Pritzl – jokingly referred to as option ‘K’ off the bench by Gard - who was summoned with 12:19 remaining in a four-point game. He never left the floor.
With his head coach saying he played within himself, Pritzl made all the shots he took (1-for-1 from the floor, 4-for-4 from the free throw line) and helped chip in with defensive pressure in the low post and attacking the defensive glass.
“I’m trying to help out these guys get the offense moving and allow them to get open,” Pritzl said. “Whether it was just cutting, screening, trying to move and make their jobs either and make other people pay attention to me.”
The all-time leading scorer at De Pere High School, Pritzl was thought to be a bench option a year ago with his perimeter shooting. That changed after he fractured his foot prior to the start of the 2015-16 season and reinjured the same foot after appearing in one game, forcing him to take a medical redshirt and basically miss a year of development.
Over the last six-plus weeks, Gard said Pritzl started to become more than just a spot-up shooter with his willingness to dive on the floor, take charges, rebound and limit turnovers in practice, doing all the things he was good at before he got hurt over a year ago.
That has led to him bringing Pritzl more often into the starting rotation and off the scout team and seeing him handle it well enough to earn Sunday’s minutes.
“For him mentally, I think he was probably caught in the trap of that shooting is going to get me back faster than anything else,” Gard said. “Really, it was all those other things first. We know he can score. We know he can shoot it really well. He had to be doing those other things, too, and that’s what we’ve seen over the last margin of time.”
Prior to Sunday Pritzl had seen limited action in 12 games, four in the Big Ten. The most minutes he had played was 13 in a 23-point win over Ohio State (Jan. 16). With his confidence starting to grow, UW might be able to see his lethal 3-point shot. Pritzl is just 3-for-8 on the season, having not made any of the four attempts since his last make on Nov.27.
Over the last three games Wisconsin is 14-for-65 (21.5 percent) from 3-point range and rank 11th in the conference in 3-point shooting (35.1 percent). Wisconsin’s Thursday’s road opponent – Nebraska – is 13th in the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense, allowing teams to shoot 40.7 percent from behind the arc.
Gard, Paris on the Road
A Wednesday nonconference matchup between the state’s top-ranked Division 2 team - La Crosse Central - and the second-ranked Division 1 team - Stevens Point – featured two of the top in-state recruits. It was enough of a draw to have Gard and associate head coach Lamont Paris twice alter the practice schedule.
King went 9-for-17 from the floor (4-for-8 from 3-point range), had seven rebounds and blocked a pair of Hauser’s shot. The two were matched up against each other most of the night.
“It was a good lift for me because Hauser is a tough matchup,” King told the La Crosse Tribune. “He’s a lot bigger than me, and all I could do was try to make it hard for him to get the shots he wanted.”
Playing in just his seventh game after recovering from a knee injury suffered during football season, Hauser scored 24 points (10-for-21) and had nine rebounds and six assists. Hauser is currently rated a five-star prospect and the No.13 overall prospect in the 2018 class. He holds offers from Bradley, Iowa, Iowa State, Marquette, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northern Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Michigan State time announced
CBS has confirmed that Wisconsin's upcoming road game against Michigan State will take place Sunday, Feb. 26, at 3 p.m. (CT) at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. It will mark the lone meeting between the two schools and the last conference road game for the Badgers.
Wisconsin is 53-19 (.736) away from home over the last four seasons. This season, the Badgers are 7-3 away from the Kohl Center, going 4-2 in true road games and 3-1 in neutral settings. For as good as the Badgers have been, Michigan State has won the last nine meetings in East Lansing. The Badgers have not won at the Breslin Center since a 68-64 overtime victory in 2004.