Badgers trounce Cal in return from Finals break

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 Cal’s damage from the line came late with the game well in hand, as the Golden Bears didn’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 Badgers’ 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 wouldn’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.

Bo’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 didn’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.

UW’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.

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