After a nine-day layoff for Finals, the No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers went out West to take on the Cal Golden Bears in the last big test before Big Ten Play. The Badgers (11-1) went out and took care of business on the basketball court, defeating Cal (10-2) 68-56 in front of its home crowd.
Wisconsin was led by the double-double effort of sophomore forward Nigel Hayes, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds in the winning effort.
The rest of the three-headed monster came to play as well, with Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky adding 14 points each. Dekker shot 5-10 from the field and was 4-5 from the free throw line, while Kaminsky also added eight rebounds.
It was the effort from the line that made the biggest difference in the game, as UW hit 17-18 free throws, while holding Cal to 9-12 from the line. Most of Calâ€™s damage from the line came late with the game well in hand, as the Golden Bears didnâ€™t hit their first free throw until nearly 8 minutes were gone in the second half.
There appeared to be a little rust to start the game, as the Badgersâ€™ stars struggled shooting early on, especially Frank Kaminsky who started the contest 0-4. However, Wisconsin would end the first half up 32-20 and seemingly in control of the contest.
UW shot 44.4 percent (12-27) from the field, while going a perfect 7-7 from the three-point line in the half. Couple that with a defensive effort that allowed no made three-point field goals or points from the free throw line and you can see an easy path to the 12-point lead at the half.
Hayes led Wisconsin in the first half, as he had 10 of his game-high 17 points. Fellow sophomore Bronson Koenig was the only other Badger over four points, with five points on 2-2 shooting.
The opening minutes of the first half were slow moving, with both teams struggling from the field. However, the Badgers would go on a 7-0 run to take an 11-4 lead with just over 12 minutes left in the half. Cal wouldnâ€™t let Wisconsin get too far away though, and with the score at 17-8 the Golden Bears went on an 8-0 run to push the Badgers lead to 17-16.
Wisconsin responded by going on a 15-4 run to end the first half and up 32-20 on the scoreboard.
Boâ€™s Badgers continued the domination early on in the second half, going on a 10-5 run to start the half and holding a 42-25 lead. However, Wisconsin could never deliver the full knockout punch, as they would never get up by more than 19 points in the game.
It didnâ€™t matter too much though, as Cal only got the Badgers lead down to single digits twice and never got closer than eight points. Cal also never led after taking a 2-0 lead to start the scoring in this game.
UWâ€™s defense was just too much overall, as they held the Golden Bears to 38.9 percent shooting and UW shot 44.4 percent itself.
Wisconsin will finish out the non-conference season when they take on Buffalo on Dec. 28 at 7pm CT. BTN will televise the contest.