All-Inclusive Performance

Feeling he was overdue for a performance like the one he delivered Wednesday, sophomore forward Sam Dekker's 21 points and 12 rebounds - his first career double-double - lead No.10 Wisconsin to a 70-63 victory over West Virginia to win the Cancun Challenge championship.

PUERTO AVENTURAS, Mexico – Sam Dekker had been waiting all season to take over for the University of Wisconsin, especially after failing to score in double figures for the first time all season in Tuesday's semifinal victory.

"Kinda felt I was due," he said.

Dekker was right, and is a big reason why Wisconsin is still perfect on the season.

The sophomore scored a career-high 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his first career double-double as No. 10 Wisconsin beat West Virginia 70-63 to win the Cancun Challenge championship at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.

"When the big moment comes," said senior Ben Brust, "(Dekker) steps up."

Winning for the sixth time in the last 12 days, Wisconsin (8-0) relied on Dekker throughout critical stretches. Trailing 11-10 early, Wisconsin went on a 20-2 that saw Dekker contribute part of his 10 points and eight rebounds. After West Virginia (5-2) cut the lead to four with 10:22 remaining, Dekker erupted for 11 points from the 6:39 mark to the 1:23 mark, building the lead back up to nine.

Dekker scored nine of UW's final 14 points - on three 3-pointers - over 4:48 to help Wisconsin break West Virginia's zone.

"Sam grew up quite a bit," said associate head coach Greg Gard. "Big three's down the stretch there… He really boarded well tonight. This is the best he has rebounded as a Badger. And this has been a challenge for him, to play a little more physical and stay in tune with that part of the game.

"That is the part that he needs to continue to grow with the physicality part of it. He gets that added to his game, with the rest of his skills, he is going to be a heck of a player."

Wisconsin got 16 points from Brust, who shrugged off a 1-for-8 game in the 63-57 win over Saint Louis, 11 points from Josh Gasser and 10 from Frank Kaminsky. Traevon Jackson finished 1-for-9 from the floor, but went 4-for-5 from the free throw line and added 10 rebounds, seven assists and one turnover.

Wisconsin went 15-for-17 from the line a night after going 17-for-30, and won despite shooting 33.3 percent (7-for-21) in the second half and 40.7 percent (22-for-54) overall.

"This one tonight will pay dividends down the road," said Gard. "Not only from a RPI standpoint and the quality of opponent, but just how we had to grind. We came here and we got two Big Ten games with how physical it was, the pace it was and how we had to battle on the glass."

The Badgers had no real answer for sophomore Eron Harris, who scored a game-high 29 points and was 7-for-11 from 3-point range. Harris hit four 3s during an 18-7 run to counter the run that put UW up by 17 points, the largest of the game, in the first half.

"We just had to keep wearing at him," said Gard. "Josh did a good job just trying to stay with him."

Harris finished 8-for-19 and Juwan Staten added 18, but the Mountaineers only got production from three other players. West Virginia hit 11 of 21 three-pointers (52.4 percent) but only 6 of 14 free-throw attempts (42.9 percent).

Wisconsin flies back with its hardware Thanksgiving morning and gets a week to rest up before another tough stretch, a road game at Virginia December 4 and a home matchup with No.25 Marquette Dec.11.

"They've answered the bell to this point," said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. "We know it just gets tougher now."


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