After saying a bunch of flattering things about freshman guard Kobe King on Sunday night, University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Greg Gard pumped the brakes on the hype-meter.

“I don’t know where it’s going to lead for him,” Gard said after King scored a game-high 17 points in the Badgers’ 85-56 exhibition win over UW-Stout at the Kohl Center. “He’s a really talented player who hasn’t even played his first regular-season game yet. So we’ll see where it goes.”

King officially will make his UW debut on Friday night when the Badgers open the 2017-18 season against visiting South Carolina State.

If games that don’t count in the standings are any indication, King will carry a significant scoring load in his first season at UW.

He went 6 of 9 from the field and shared the team lead with three assists against the Blue Devils, another item in a ledger of strong performances during exhibition play.

Four days earlier, King scored a game-high 15 points against Northern Iowa. He was the leading scorer in the Red-White scrimmage last month with 16 points. He also scored 18 points on two occasions during the Badgers’ five-game exhibition tour to Australia and New Zealand over the summer.

“I think Kobe’s been very opportunistic,” Gard said. “He’s taken advantage of what the defense has given him. For the most part, he hasn’t forced things. He can score in a variety of levels. He can score from behind the (3-point) line, he can score at the rim, his mid-range game is pretty good.”

King’s reaction to his run of success in preseason play?

“Just staying confident, staying aggressive throughout these games has been big for me,” he said, “and I hope it continues.”

King’s classmate, freshman guard Brad Davison, added 13 points for the Badgers. Davison started in place of sophomore point guard D’Mitrik Trice, who was held out after injuring an ankle in practice on Saturday.

The other member of UW’s starting backcourt, sophomore Brevin Pritzl, didn’t play the final 11 minutes, 38 seconds against the Blue Devils after limping off the floor with what appeared to be a left foot injury. Pritzl got tangled up with a Stout player while going after a rebound.

Gard said Trice’s injury wasn’t serious. He said he didn’t have enough information to comment on Pritzl’s status, though Pritzl returned to the bench shortly after getting looked over by an athletic trainer and walked off the floor without a limp after the game.

UW is already young and inexperienced in the backcourt. The good news for the Badgers is that King and Davison, by all indications, appear poised to provide an immediate boost.

“Both (King) and Brad are not your typical freshmen from a physical standpoint and they’ve bought in with everything we’ve talked about,” Gard said. “They want to be good. They love being at the University of Wisconsin and love playing for the Badgers.”

Stout, picked to finish last in the eight-team WIAC, got 14 points from Sam Ortmann and 10 from Isaac Elliott.

The Blue Devils’ starting lineup consisted of five players who are all listed at 6-foot-2, so it was no surprise that they struggled with UW’s size. The Badgers finished with a 42-24 edge in rebounding and outscored the Blue Devils 25-2 in second-chance points.

Stout double-teamed Ethan Happ every time he received the ball in the post, and the UW junior center didn’t record an official shot attempt in 22 minutes of action. But Happ was content with serving as a distributor and finished with three assists and no turnovers.

Junior forwards Andy Van Vliet and Khalil Iverson scored 11 points apiece to join King and Davison in double figures. Charlie Thomas, also a junior forward, had nine points and seven rebounds in 10 minutes off the bench.

“If you can take one guy out, then you force them to go to somebody else,” Stout coach Eddie Andrist said. “As we’ve seen, as you have all seen through the course of this early season, they have a lot of guys that can do different things and we certainly couldn’t cover them all.”

One of the things that pleased Gard was that the Badgers attempted 26 free throws. UW settled for perimeter shots a bit too often for Gard’s taste in the first half, but the Badgers got better at attacking the rim as the game went on and began to drive up the foul count on Stout.

“We do need to get to the free throw line,” Gard said. “Our better teams have always gotten there a lot. And I think we have multiple guys that can get there. We have a lot of guys that can post and a lot of guys that embrace the physical contact that comes with it.”

Gard told his players after the game that now “it starts counting for real.”

Count King and Davison among those who are ready for, as Davison put it, the “real show” to begin.

How eager are the freshmen for the season to officially get underway?

“Very eager,” King said before being interrupted by his classmate.

“Understatement,” Davison said.


UW-STOUT

min fg-a ft-a rb pf a to pts

Keefe 24 3-7 0-0 4 0 2 0 8

Dahl 12 0-2 0-0 0 2 0 2 0

Walbeck 12 1-3 0-0 3 1 0 1 2

Elliott 19 4-8 0-0 1 2 0 2 10

Ortmann 24 5-9 2-3 0 2 1 2 14

Reese 2 0-2 0-0 0 0 0 1 0

Dickson 14 0-2 0-0 3 4 1 0 0

Stroemple 13 1-5 0-0 0 4 1 4 2

Patrick 10 4-4 0-1 1 3 0 1 9

Mericle 5 1-1 0-0 0 1 0 0 2

Fulkerson 6 0-1 0-0 1 0 0 0 0

Christman 10 0-1 0-0 2 2 1 1 0

Ciriacks 12 1-3 0-0 5 0 0 0 2

Duty 12 1-3 1-2 0 1 1 0 3

Mackey 8 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 1 0

Schmitt 9 1-1 0-0 1 1 0 1 2

Hake 2 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 0 2

Geiger 2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0

Booth 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0

Gehlhausen 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0

Totals 22-53 5-8 24 24 7 16 56

WISCONSIN

min fg-a ft-a rb pf a to pts

Van Vliet 14 5-5 1-1 7 1 1 0 11

Happ 22 0-0 2-4 4 0 3 0 2

Pritzl 21 2-7 0-0 5 1 0 0 6

Iverson 21 4-8 2-2 4 2 0 3 11

Davison 23 3-7 4-5 2 1 2 0 13

Ford 18 0-6 0-0 3 1 2 2 0

McGrory 4 0-0 0-2 1 2 1 0 0

Ferris 2 2-2 0-0 0 0 0 0 5

Moesch 9 2-2 0-0 0 0 1 0 4

Thomas 10 3-8 3-4 7 0 1 1 9

Schlundt 14 1-1 2-2 2 2 0 0 5

King 24 6-9 4-6 3 1 3 2 17

Illikainen 6 0-0 0-0 2 1 0 2 0

Ballard 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0 0

Reuvers 10 1-2 0-0 0 2 0 1 2

Totals 29-57 18-26 42 14 15 11 85

Team totals include rebounds and turnovers

UW-Stout 28 28 — 56 Wisconsin 41 44 — 85

3-pointers — S 7-24 (Elliott 2-4, Ortmann 2-4, Keefe 2-5, Patrick 1-1, Dickson 0-1, Christman 0-1, Ciriacks 0-1, Geiger 0-1, Duty 0-2, Walbeck 0-2, Reese 0-2), W 9-24 (Davison 3-6, Pritzl 2-6, Ferris 1-1, Schlundt 1-1, King 1-2, Iverson 1-2, Thomas 0-2, Ford 0-4. Blocks — S 0, W 2 (Iverson 1, Ford 1). Field goal percentage — S .415, W .509. Free throw percentage — S .625, W 692. Att. — 17,287.

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