It took Wisconsin almost three minutes to register its first points on the season, but after Nigel Hayes was able to knock down a layup, thanks to an assist from Frank Kaminsky, the rout was on for Wisconsin. The route was keyed by an 18-4 run by the Badgers thanks to a mix of Wisconsin players to help give Wisconsin some space from Northern Kentucky.
Kaminsky led the way with 16 points - going 7-for-12 from the field. Sam Dekker was the only other Badger to reach double digits with 15 points in 23 minutes. Traevon Jackson was third with nine points, as all of his points came in the second half. Josh Gasser and Nigel Hayes rounded out the scoring from the starters with six points each.
Even though there was expected to be some sloppiness, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan won’t be pleased with the nine turnovers and how they came about. Lucky for Wisconsin, Northern Kentucky was only able to convert the Badger miscues into four points.
Wisconsin did show good ball movement throughout the game that helped set up good shots. Wisconsin went 23-for-47 (48.9 percent) but struggled from 3-point range, going 4-for-17. Gasser was the only player to hit at least two threes (2-for-3) for Wisconsin.
Although Wisconsin couldn’t convert from 3-point range, UW used its height advantage in the low post to dominate the post and score 34 points in the paint. Kaminsky was able to do the most damage down low - going 6-for-7 around the hoop.
The Badgers did a great job of holding Jordan Jackson – 13.5 points per game a year ago - to zero points. Daniel Camps led Northern Kentucky with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting. The Badgers were able to hold four of five Northern Kentucky starters to two points each.
Northern Kentucky was able to make some difficult shots but Wisconsin held the Norse to 26.4 percent on 14-for-53 from the field. With Wisconsin being able to take away the paint (16 points) it forced the Norse to settle for three’s where they struggled going 2-for-16.
One impressive thing about Wisconsin’s defense may have been its ability to play tough defense without fouling. Wisconsin only committed nine personal fouls, resulting in five shots from the free throw (1-for-5).
Wisconsin forced 10 turnovers, eight of which came in the second half. The Badgers started to use their length and size to their advantage in the final 20 minutes by cutting off passing lanes. The Badgers were able to generate 11 points off of Northern Kentucky turnovers.
Due to the Badgers’ size, Northern Kentucky struggled on the offensive glass (six offensive rebounds) as all of Wisconsin bigs were able to effectively box out. Northern Kentucky could only get three points off of second-chance opportunities, allowing Wisconsin’s offense more possessions.
The Badgers may have started slow but they proved to be the better team from the start. UW received balanced scoring, out rebound Northern Kentucky 42-28, and got into the bonus in each half. The only downside was UW going 12-for-20 (60 percent) from the line.
It was surprising that Hayes, who made 164 free throws a year ago, didn’t have an attempt, but Dekker was able to consistently attack the hoop and attempted a team-high six free throws (making five). Jackson and Kaminsky each tied for second on the team in free throw attempts with four; Jackson made all four of his and Kaminsky made one of his four.
Hayes was selective offensively but was very effective on the glass with a career-high 10 rebounds. Hayes efficiently boxed out his man or was the recipient of collecting a rebound thanks to one of his teammates boxing out.
Even though Hayes was effective rebounding the basketball he did have a freshman moment in the first half. At the 7:40 mark, Hayes was able to grab an offensive rebound off of a miss 3-pointer by Kaminsky. Instead of going up with the ball right away for an easy two, Hayes dropped the down low and it was stripped by Todd Johnson. Off of the turnover, Northern Kentucky was able to hit a field goal to cut Wisconsin’s lead by eight.
Duje Dukan sitting out for the first two games of the season (NCAA ruling) allowed Brown to see important minutes. He made the most of his 14 minutes, leading the Badgers off the bench with seven points and went 3-for-3 from the floor. Brown also was able to collect four rebounds and managed to get to the free throw lines four times. but only could make one attempt.
Game MVP: Frank Kaminsky. The senior got his season off on the right foot recording a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, which is his third double-double of his career. Thanks to the lack of height by Northern Kentucky, Kaminsky took advantage and showed glimpses of why he was named preseason Big Ten player of the year.
At times Kaminsky was running the floor as the point guard off of a missed rebound, trying to make a play happen and was efficient generating offense for his teammates, recording a team high four assists. Simply put Kaminsky did a little bit of everything for Wisconsin.