Badgers rally to top Florida
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MADISON--The first seven-plus minutes of play Tuesday night at the Kohl Center must have felt like a trip down memory lane for Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin players.
Ugly memories, to be sure.
However, unlike their trip to Florida last season, the Badgers overcame an early double-digit deficit and surprised the Gators, 59-53, in front of an announced crowd of 17,249.
“Just tenacity, just gutting it out,” Ryan said when asked what allowed UW to rally from the early 16-4 deficit and hold on down the stretch. “Just working through things.
“You can teach the game…but you also have to be able to work with players to understand that things aren’t always going to go your way.
“They weren’t going to stop fighting and clawing and scratching. They continued to do that. I thought defensively they really went on a tear there in the first half after it was 16-4.”
Sophomore forward Sam Dekker scored 16 points to lead UW (2-0), No. 20 in The Associated Press poll. Junior guard Traevon Jackson had five turnovers, including two critical mistakes late.
“The turnovers were terrible,” he said.
However, Jackson buried a critical elbow jumper with 9.8 seconds to give UW a 58-53 lead over the 11th-ranked Gators (1-1) and finished with 13 points.
“The two things we didn’t want to give up was a 3 or a layup,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said when asked about Jackson’s victory-clinching shot. “We made him take a tough, challenged two and he made a difficult shot.
“That pretty much iced it for them.”
Senior guard Ben Brust added 11 points and nine rebounds for UW, which suffered an 18-point loss at Florida last season. Freshman forward Nigel Hayes was more aggressive than in the opener and added eight points and two rebounds in 18 minutes.
Junior forward Frank Kaminsky came alive after halftime and added six of his eight points, all five of his rebounds and both blocks in the final 20 minutes.
Michael Frazier II scored 20 points and Casey Prather added 12 for the Gators. Frazier hit 5 of 7 3-pointers and 7 of 11 shots overall. He hit three consecutive 3-pointers in the first half to help the Gators take control early.
UW led by as many as 11 points in the second half, 47-36, on Duje Dukan’s 3-pointer with 11:59 left.
Jackson buried two free throws with 5:59 left to push UW’s lead to 51-44. Then after the Gators pulled within five points, Jackson had the ball stolen in the backcourt by Will Yeguete (eight points) and fouled the forward, who went down hard with 5:01 left. Patric Young (eight points) shot the free throws for Yeguete and made both attempts.
Dekker turned the ball over on the other end but Young missed a jump hook.
That proved costly.
Kaminsky, who had five points to that juncture, buried an open 3-pointer with 4 minutes left to give UW a 54-48 lead.
With UW leading, 54-49, freshman guard Kasey Hill picked up his fifth foul with 3:25 left while trying to guard Dekker down low.
That put UW in the double-bonus and Dekker missed the first but made the second.
After a basket by Yeguete, Dekker drew a foul on Yeguete, with 2:29 left, while cutting through the lane. Dekker again missed he first attempt and made the second. UW’s lead was 56-51.
Young hit 1 of 2 free-throw attempts; Jackson missed a 3-pointer and the Gators called a timeout with 1:33 left and trailing, 56-52.
UW held a 56-53 lead when it called a timeout with 33.4 seconds left, including 27 on the shot clock.
Jackson, who hit so many big shots last season, drained his elbow jumper. Kaminsky came up with a huge block on the other end and Brust grabbed the loose ball. He was fouled with 2.4 seconds left and made 1 of 2 free throws to close the scoring.
“I’ve never criticized a player publicly,” Ryan said when asked about Jackson’s turnovers. “There are things that we’ll work on.
“But he’s been in so many tough situations that I wasn’t trading him those last five minutes.”