Wisconsin welcomed one senior back to the lineup and started life without another as they took on the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Star center Frank Kaminsky came back and Wisconsin faced life without 81-game starting point guard Traevon Jackson, but the changes didnâ€™t seem to bother UW too much.
After some cold moments to start both halves, Wisconsin (16-2, 4-1 B1G) managed to run the Huskers (10-7, 2-3 B1G) out of the Kohl Center in a 70-55 victory.
It was safe to say Kaminsky was itching to get back out there, as he took the game by storm and finished with a team-high 22 points.
No play may have epitomized his hunger in this game than his block turned point guard alley oop to Sam Dekker late in the first half.
Kaminsky had 15 of his 22 points in the first half alone, but finished the game shooting 7-11 from the field. He was helped by frontcourt teammate Nigel Hayes, who poured in 13 points (9 in the first half).
What was most telling was the biggest question mark coming in â€” how Wisconsin would adjust to life without Jackson in the lineup.
Jacksonâ€™s replacement, sophomore Bronson Koenig didnâ€™t look out of place at all as he took to scoring from deep and helping run an efficient Badgers offense. He finished the game with 11 points and one assist, but more importantly he was 3 of 4 from behind the three-point line.
Wisconsin survived a killer first half from Huskers guard Terran Petteway (20 of his 27 points in the first half) with a 9-0 run to end the fist half. As a result the Badgers took a 10-point, 37-27, lead in to the intermission.
The game started off much like the last one ended, with Nebraska seemingly unable to miss. In fact, the Huskers went 6 of 8 to start the game. Only things were much different after the opening minutes, as Nebraska finished the half shooting just 11-26. Take away Pettewayâ€™s
Wisconsin on the other hand started out slow, only to go completely nuts to end the first half. UW ended the half shooting 62.5 percent from the field (15-24) and also got hot from deep, shooting 46.2 percent (6 of 13) from beyond the three-point line.
The second half started much like the first, with Nebraska (and Petteway in particular) starting off hot once again. About the only difference is that the Huskersâ€™ hot start in the second half only served to slightly eat in to the Badgers lead.
Just like the first half, the Huskers came out firing and were 4 of 6 from the field before the first media timeout and UWâ€™s lead was down to as little as four points. After that though, things were also eerily familiar to the first half.
Thatâ€™s because the Huskers got cold as Petteway couldnâ€™t hit buckets and the rest of the offense couldnâ€™t come along for the rid. On the other hand, Wisconsin just continued to play their game and got hotter from the field as the half went on.
Wisconsin couldnâ€™t have gotten colder to start the half, going 0-5 from the field. But, Wisconsin made eight free throws in the first six minutes of the half to maintain enough of a lead before the shots finally went down.
UW spent the majority of the second half from the free throw line, hitting the bonus at the 12:53 mark of the half. It helped to salt the game away, with Wisconsin making 17 free throws for the game and five after hitting the bonus so early in the half.
Between the 17 to 8 advantage in made free throws and the Badgersâ€™ 11 to 5 advantage in made three pointers, it became elementary that the Badgers were going to win this ball game. It did so with a lead that ballooned to 22 points and was hovering around 20 points for most of the last 10 minutes of the game.
Badger of the Game: Frank Kaminsky
He came out and took control of the game when Wisconsin was struggling from the field in the early part of the first half. Additionally, his night from the offensive end was just ridiculous. He went 7-11 from the field, 4-5 from beyond the arc and 5-5 from the free throw line.
Oh, and defensively he wasnâ€™t too bad either, adding two blocks and two steals to go with five rebounds.
Safe to say the Badgers were a different defensive team with him in the lineup than without him there.
Key Moment: Badgers 9-0 run to end 1st half
Wisconsin was cold to start the game, but it heated up as the half went on and it was capped off by a 9-0 run to end the first half. That led to a nice 10 point cushion to start the 2nd half.
It also was just the lead the Badgers needed, as they used that 10-point cushion to help it get through a slow start to the second half. Eventually the Badgers caught fire, but without that early cushion this game couldâ€™ve been a very different one in the final 10 minutes of the second half.
Up Next: Tues. Jan. 20 vs. Iowa; 8pm CT on ESPN