Nate Reuvers had never played in Williams Arena before Wednesday night’s Border Battle between No. 19 Wisconsin and the Gophers.
The Badgers’ 6-10 starting forward attended Gophers games as a standout at Lakeville North, but he always wondered what it would be like to play on the Barn’s raised floor. He found out Wednesday.
“Great atmosphere,” Reuvers said. “They got a lot of good fans here. Just a very fun game to play in.”
Reuvers and sophomore guard Brad Davison, a Maple Grove native, had over 100 friends and family attending their first college game returning to the home state Wednesday.
They combined for 17 points — Reuvers with nine, Davison eight — in the Badgers’ 56-51 victory. Reuvers also had eight rebounds and seven blocked shots.
In Minnesota’s 59-52 victory in Madison on Jan. 3, Reuvers had 12 points for Wisconsin and carried that confidence moving forward.
In a Jan. 14 loss at Maryland, Reuvers scored 18 points in the second half. A week later, he had a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds at Illinois, which started Wisconsin’s six-game winning streak.
He’s giving the Badgers another inside presence to take pressure off senior All-America candidate Ethan Happ.
“I’m just coming in with a great mind-set and playing hard,” Reuvers said. “If someone needs to step up, I want to take that role.”
Adding 25 pounds to his frame in the offseason, Reuvers said he felt in much better shape and able to handle the physical grind of Big Ten play this year.
Reuvers and Gophers freshman Daniel Oturu battled in the paint in the first half Wednesday. Oturu blocked him twice on one possession, but Reuvers came back later with a dunk and a three-pointer.
In high school, Reuvers matched up against Oturu when Lakeville North fell to Cretin-Derham Hall in the Class 4A third-place game in 2017.
That was Reuvers’ last basketball game in Minnesota until Wednesday against the Gophers.
“It’s a lot of fun playing in the Big Ten and against guys you grew up playing against,” Reuvers said. “You don’t want to lose.”
Gophers junior guard Amir Coffey was honored before Wednesday’s game for eclipsing 1,000 career points.
Coffey, who entered the game with 1,012 points, became the 10th player in team history to reach that milestone as a junior.