Another Night, Another Leader for Wisconsin

In a shooting slump through the year's first three games, junior Frank Kaminsky came to life in the second half, scoring 14 of his team-high 16 points to lead No.20 Wisconsin to a 69-66 victory over Green Bay at the Resch Center.

ASHWAUBENON - The outside shot wasn't there and it seemed like every other shot attempt from the low block was being blocked or altered. The defense was suspect along with some of the box outs, allowing open looks and uncontested drives to the lane, and saw a player go 13-for-26 from the floor.

And yet, the Wisconsin men's basketball team found a way again.

"We've got a young team, but we've guys who've been through games like these before," said junior Treavon Jackson, as No.20 Wisconsin, despite a game-high 32 points from Green Bay junior Keifer Sykes, escaped with a 69-66 victory in front of 9,906 at the Resch Center, a program record. "We're able to handle adversity when it comes."

A hero has seemed to step up every night for Wisconsin (3-0), which survived its first road test despite shooting 5-for-18 (27.8 percent) from 3-point range, committing more turnovers (10) than assists (9) and missing three free throws (not including a lane violation) in the final 2:14 to allow Green Bay (1-1) to have a pulse.

In the opener it was Josh Gasser's 19 points; against No.11 Florida it was Sam Dekker's spark and Jackson's late jumper. This time it was Frank Kaminsky against the Phoenix.

Despite starting 1-for-5 from the floor, pushing him to 5-for-17 (29.4 percent) to start the season, Kaminsky went 5-for-7 for 14 points over the final 12-plus minutes. He scored nine points on a 17-4 run, erasing Green Bay's largest lead at 50-43 with 11:30 remaining.

"We need that from him," said Gasser. "He's a vocal player in our offense. He's one the guys we depend on. He's the go-to-true big. We wanted to get him the ball the whole game and we finally got something going with him. He made some big plays, and he needed it."

And the Badgers led from that point on thanks in large part to Kaminsky. After Jackson went 1-for-2 from the line, giving UW a two-point lead with 10.9 seconds left, Sykes drove from the right baseline, but Kaminsky registered one of his four second-half blocks and went to the line with 4.3 seconds left.

"I just didn't want to let my teammates down," said Kaminsky. "I just tried whatever I could do to get a win."

"He won the game for us," added Jackson. "I really think he did."

Kaminsky made the first, was whistled for a lane violation on the second and celebrated with his teammates after Sykes' 3-point shot bounced off the front iron and harmlessly to the court.

"We knew Green Bay was a phenomenal team," said Gasser. "This is the game when I first looked at the schedule was going to be a really tough game because watching them over the years, playing them over the years, they're really good … We found a way to make enough plays."

Kaminsky also helped keep two-time All-Horizon League player Alec Brown – the nation's only active player with 1,200-plus points, 600-plus rebounds and 200-plus blocks – to two points and five turnovers in 18 minutes before fouling out.

"We had it in our scouting report to be physical with him and I think we did that," said Kaminsky. "He had some good plays and he had some things we forced him into it."

Wisconsin got 13 points from Sam Dekker, 11 points from Gasser and seven points off the bench from Bronson Koenig, who filled in admirably for George Marshall after the sophomore suffered a concussion in Friday's practice and didn't make the trip.

"Bronson can play with the best of anybody," said Jackson, who added six points, three assists and no turnovers. "It was good to see him come into a hostile environment and play well."

Wisconsin had already passed two challenging tests in the season's first five days – beating a BCS opponent that has pound-for-pound talent on a neutral court and beating a defensive-minded top15 team at home. It could be argued though that one was the toughest of the bunch.

It was the first true road game for a young time, playing in front of a sold-out crowd and doing so against a team picked to win its conference with a player that simply caught fire in bursts.

Sykes scored in bunches and came out hot at the start of both halves. He scored the eight of the first 11 points in each half for the Phoenix, the latter of which spurred a 10-1 run to give Green Bay a 39-37 lead.

"He's a great player," said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan of Sykes. "Everything that was on our scouting report he did. Sometimes a player that wants to do so much, sometimes maybe you can catch him if he's getting off on his shot a little bit, but he was pretty consistent. We didn't get him off by much."

Ryan admitted that other than the snapshot he got the see during Wisconsin's Canada trip in August, he didn't a lot about his team that is comprised of two seniors, two juniors who redshirted last season and six freshmen. He certainly has an idea now.

"I've got a great group of guys," said Ryan. "I've got some fine young men, and they can be better basketball players. There's a lot they can learn and a lot they're trying to learn."

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