Unofficially, it will be Ryan Family Night at Kohl Center on Friday when in-state rival Green Bay visits Wisconsin in Madison.
Former coach Bo Ryan will be honored at halftime with his son, UWGB Phoenix coach Will Ryan, looking to play spoiler at Kohl Center.
The Badgers (1-0) opened with an 81-58 victory over St. Francis Brooklyn on Tuesday. Green Bay (0-1) lost at home 81-77 to Indiana State after leading by 12 with just over 13 minutes to play.
Wisconsin has won 10 consecutive games against the Phoenix since an 88-84 overtime loss in Green Bay in 2009.
Last season, the Badgers rolled to an 82-42 victory in Madison, leading 34-12 at the half. Wisconsin leads the overall series 13-1.
Against St. Francis, Wisconsin jumped in front 14-3 then used a 15-point run to stretch the lead to 34-12. Johnny Davis scored 15 points, along with five assists and no turnovers, and freshman Chucky Hepburn added 13.
Hepburn became the first true freshman to start for Wisconsin since Devin Harris in 2001. Harris went on to be a lottery pick in the 2004 NBA draft after being named Big Ten Player of the Year, and spent 15 seasons in the NBA.
Wisconsin, which returned starters Brad Davison and Tyler Wahl, along with top substitute Davis, has seven sophomores and five freshmen.
Wisconsin coach Greg Gard used the opportunity to mix and match player groups and rotations.
“It’s so early, it’s only game one, so a lot of stuff needs fine-tuning,” Gard said. “We’re just continuing to put different combinations out there, at the same time, I’ve got to get a lot of guys experience.”
A pair of 7-footers, sophomore Steven Crowl and Chris Vogt, a graduate transfer from Cincinnati, alternated inside. Crowl had 11 points and eight rebounds and Vogt had a team-high nine rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes as the Badgers had a 48-31 advantage on the boards.
“He (Vogt) understands who he is, he understands what he’s good at and he understands what he’s not good at, and he plays to his strengths,” Gard said. “So, yes, him altering shots, blocking shots, the rebounding, all those things are welcome attributes that he’s helped us with.”
Green Bay went without a field goal over the final 3:43 in its loss to Indiana State.
Emmanuel Ansong had 19 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Donovan Ivory and Kamari McGee combined for 30 points off the bench. Green Bay was out-rebounded 37-28.
“It’s going to be worked on the next couple of days,” Ryan said of the rebounding. “Because, it’s not going to get an easier with a team like Wisconsin, which definitely has more size than Indiana State.”
Bo Ryan was 364-130 in 14-plus seasons with 14 NCAA tournament trips and two Final Fours during his stint at Wisconsin.
“It will be a great honor,” Will Ryan said of the ceremony honoring his father. “So, I’m excited for that, but at the end of the day, we’re trying to beat the Badgers.”