No way the Badgers menâ€™s basketball team would have it as easy as they did in the first meeting with Northwestern, right? UW won that one 81-58 in Evanston, and the chances were Northwestern would have a long memory.
Instead, it was a severe case of deja vu, as the Badgers poured it on early and never let up in a 65-50 win. The win moved the Badgers to 9-1 in Big Ten play, which is tied for the best start in program history with the 1914 squad.
What did the job against Northwestern this time around was an all-around team effort. Frank Kaminsky didnâ€™t light up the scoreboard the way he has done as of late (only 12 points). However, he got others involved and ended the day with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Many of those assists helped sophomore point guard Bronson Koenig to a career-high 16 points on 6-10 shooting from the field.
Wisconsin jumped out to a 19-4 lead in the first eight-plus minutes of the first half and it was all the lead UW would need to dispatch of Northwestern for the ninth time in the last ten games.
It wasnâ€™t just hot shooting that allowed UW to control the game, although that was the case as the Badgers were 7-10 during that 19-4 start. Wisconsin also got things done on the defensive end of the court too.
Northwestern missed 9 of first 10 shots. Zero offensive rebounds vs. #Badgers
— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) February 7, 2015
Sam Dekker got the Badgers of to the fast start on both sides of the ball, hitting a triple against the Northwestern 2-3 zone look and then following it up with a sweet alley-oop dunk. It was Dekker 5, Northwestern 0 at that point.
Wisconsinâ€™s good fortune continued throughout the half, as the Badgers went in the bonus in the final 9:34 of the first half as well. Northwestern didnâ€™t help themselves, committing five fouls in a span of 32 seconds of game action to get the Badgers to the line as well.
Northwestern didnâ€™t pack it in though, as they battled back from a 17-point deficit with a 7-0 run over the course of a 3-plus minute span. The Wildcats were able to cut UWâ€™s lead to just 10 points with 3:55 left in the first half, however Wisconsin answered back seven straight points and built a 32-17 cushion once again.
UW up 30-17 with 2:04 left. Badgers started the game 8 of 11, missed 13 of their next 14, now have made 2 in a row.
— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) February 7, 2015
Wisconsin ended the half on a 10-4 and took a 37-21 lead in to the half. Both Hayes and Dekker would lead the Badgers in scoring with 11 points, but both were also active on the boards. Hayes grabbed six of his eight rebounds in the first half, while Dekker wasnâ€™t far behind with four.
Josh Gasser was also an active rebounder, leading UW with seven boards in the first half alone. He would finish the game with a game-high nine rebounds in the winning effort.
It was pure domination for the Badgers in that first half â€” outrebounding Northwestern 24-12, holding the Wildcats to 32.1 percent shooting and keeping them off the line. Wisconsin managed to get to the line for 10 free throws, hitting all but one in the half and shot 41.4 percent from the field to earn the 16-point advantage.
UW came out of the half and poured it on early, thanks to back-to-back triples from Koenig. The Badgers lead built up to 43-24 and unlike the first half the Badgers didnâ€™t step off the gas or let the Wildcats back in the game.
Northwestern couldnâ€™t get closer than a 10-point deficit the rest of the half as the Badgers just methodically worked over the Wildcats in all phases of the game.Â Â The Wildcats did have more opportunities available to them in the second half, especially from the free throw line, but shot just eight of 12 from the charity stripe.
The Badgers shot just 21-54 from the field, and Northwestern had a better shooting percentage, but nine of the 21 made field goals came from beyond the three-point line. Wisconsin also had a massive advantage on the boards, leading the Wildcats 42-25 on the glass.
Badger of the Game: Frank Kaminsky
No doubt heâ€™s had more dominate scoring games, but the guy was easily the best player on the court today. He did a bit of everything, including leading the team in assists. This was a pure clinic on how to play within a team system.
Key Moment: 5 fouls in 32 seconds
Opposing teams canâ€™t put the Badgers on the line a ton if they want to win. Too bad no one told Northwestern that, as the team put up five fouls in a span of 32 seconds in the first half. All the Badgers did was exploit that advantage and help pad their already sizable lead.
Up Next: Feb 10 @ Nebraska, 8pm CT on ESPN