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Badgers knock out Nicholls early in 86-43 win

Nicholls came in to this game overmatched on paper, and it took just three minutes to figure out it was overmatched on the court as well. No. 5 Wisconsin took a 2-0 lead and never looked back, winning 86-43, and grabbing its 10th win of the season (10-1).

It was just what the doctor ordered as the Badgers head in to finals week, as nearly everyone on the roster was involved.

Wisconsin was led by Sam Dekker’s 17 point effort, but he was just one of five Badgers to score in double figures. Joining Dekker were fellow starters Josh Gasser (14), Nigel Hayes (12) and Frank Kaminsky (10). Reserve forward Vitto Brown (10) joined in the party as well.

Hayes had seven of his 12 point total in the first four minutes of the game, while the Badgers defense forced three turnovers on the opening six possessions for the Colonels. It was a sign of things to come, as the Badgers never were really in trouble in this contest.

Wisconsin got reserves Bronson Koenig, Vitto Brown and Duje Dukan in to the game early and all three had a major impact in the first half. Brown took his first two touches and hit back-to-back jumpers for four of his 10 points, while Dukan got involved on the boards and setting up others and Koenig did his usual getting to the rim.

Point being, Nicholls let the Badgers do whatever they wanted early and often…and it didn’t stop the entire game. The Colonels only got one player in double figures, with Amin Torres coming off the bench for 14 of the 43 points scored by Nicholls.

Dekker was the unquestioned star of the fist half, as he did just about everything well in leading UW to a 32-point lead at 47-15.

He wasn’t the only efficient player though, as Hayes had 11 points to join Dekker in double figures for the first half. As a team, the Badgers shot 70.4 percent from the field, while also making sure to take care of business on the defensive end.

UW held the Colonels to just 24.1 percent shooting from the field and forced eight turnovers. The Badgers also held a 21-10 advantage on the boards through the first half.

About the only negative for the Badgers were back-to-back turnovers in the final minutes of the first half, something Bo Ryan pointed out to his team in the locker room at the half.

Things didn’t go much better for the Colonels in the second half either, although they did manage to only be outscored by 11 points (39-28) in the half.

Wisconsin got a bit colder in the second half as it shuffled through its entire bench early and often. UW shot 51.9 percent for the game (28-54), but were also 74.3 percent from the free throw line (24-35) and managed more points from free throws than Nicholls had made field goals (18).

There wasn’t a stat that UW didn’t win in this game, grabbing a 40-26 advantage on the boards, forcing 21 turnovers to 10 committed, having a 5-1 advantage in blocks and assisting on 14 of the 28 made field goals.

Simply put this was domination from start to finish, and a palate cleanser for the Badgers as the players head in to finals week.

UW will hit the court next on Dec. 22 at Cal.

Badger of the Game: Nigel Hayes

Despite the trouble the announcers had pronouncing his name, Hayes was on fire in a contest that didn’t call for him to completely take over. Not only did he have 12 points, but Hayes was perfect from the field (5-5) and led the Badgers in rebounds (8).

Considering the lack of serious minutes, (he played the second-fewest minutes of season, 24, today) that was some serious production. While this was more of a team effort kind of game, Hayes’ ability to hit from anywhere he tried on Saturday afternoon was impressive.

Key Moment: 3 early turnovers

Wisconsin shot the ball okay to open the game, but it took advantage of major opportunities it forced too. The Badgers getting three early turnovers in six possessions set the tone on both sides of the court in those first three minutes.

To the Badgers credit, they didn’t let up no matter who was on the court for them, earning a block just seconds before the final horn sounded.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site