MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Wisconsin men's basketball team is trying to rebound from some bad news. Kobe King, the second-leading scorer, is transferring.
Wisconsin guard Kobe King (23) drives against Purdue guard Nojel Eastern (20) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in West Lafayette, Ind., Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
"He's entitled to that opinion and he's entitled to those choices. And that's the part of our position is to help people navigate through life's obstacles and he came to that conclusion, that he needed to make a change, then you support that and help him the best way that you can," Gard said Thursday.
King announced his decision to leave the program on Instagram.
“This has been a very tough decision for me ... however, after spending almost three years in the Wisconsin program I have realized that this program is not the right fit for me as a player and person," King wrote.
Wisconsin junior guard D'Mitrik Trice said he saw frustration from King especially in the Badgers 70-51 loss to Purdue on Jan. 24.
We could physically see that when he was crying, tears were physcially coming down his face at halftime and after the game. I talked to him a little after the game. I could tell he was a little upset," Trice said.
Gard said he respected King's decision to leave.
The Big Ten also suspended Brad Davison for one game for a flagrant foul he committed against Iowa. Davison will not play at home against No. 14 Michigan State on Saturday.
"I've known Brad Davison since he was in eighth grade. I will vouch for his character until the day I die. Just like I will for any of the other guys in my locker room. I will go to bat for them. I've got their back completely. I do not agree with this punishment that was handed down," Gard said.
Badgers coach Greg Gard says he is confident his team will bounce back.
No. 14 Michigan State (16-5, 8-2) vs. Wisconsin (12-9, 5-5)
Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin; Saturday, Noon CST
BOTTOM LINE: No. 14 Michigan State looks for its ninth straight win in the head-to-head series over Wisconsin. Michigan State has won by an average of 10 points in its last eight wins over the Badgers. Wisconsin’s last win in the series came on Jan. 17, 2016, a 77-76 win.
SQUAD LEADERS: The versatile Nate Reuvers has averaged 13.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks to lead the charge for the Badgers. Complementing Reuvers is D’Mitrik Trice, who is maintaining an average of 9.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. The Spartans have been led by Xavier Tillman, who is averaging 13.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
KEY CONTRIBUTIONS: Cassius Winston has had his hand in 43 percent of all Michigan State field goals over the last three games. Winston has 18 field goals and 14 assists in those games.
UNDEFEATED WHEN: The Badgers are 5-0 when at least four of their players score 10 or more points and 7-9 when any fewer than that achieve double-figures. The Spartans are 12-0 when they hold opponents to 65 points or fewer and 4-5 whenever opponents exceed 65 points.
ACCOUNTING FOR ASSISTS: The Spartans have recently used assists to create buckets more often than the Badgers. Wisconsin has an assist on 47 of 73 field goals (64.4 percent) over its previous three matchups while Michigan State has assists on 52 of 75 field goals (69.3 percent) during its past three games.
DID YOU KNOW: The Wisconsin offense has recorded a turnover on only 16.5 percent of its possessions, which is the 27th-best rate in the country. The Michigan State defense has forced opposing teams to turn the ball over on just 16.6 percent of all possessions (ranked 330th among Division I teams).