MADISON- Even in late night, No.3 Wisconsin still continues to hum right along.
The peculiar tip time of 9 p.m. didn’t seem to bother the Badgers one bit, as Wisconsin shot over 50 percent from the floor for the third straight game to cruise in the second half to a 78-54 victory over Boise State Saturday.
Finishing off its season opening home stand perfect, Wisconsin (4-0) is winning by an average of 30.7 points per game and relied on its All-American center to do much of the heavy lifting.
Senior Frank Kaminsky was key in sparking Wisconsin’s 16-6 run in the first half, as he scored 17 of his team-high 26 points before halftime. Kaminsky got the run started by knocking down his third 3-pointer or the game and finished the last five minutes of the half with seven points, one rebound, and a steal.
“Frank just keeps playing, keeps working at it every day,” UW coach Bo Ryan said. “It’s just an example of a guy being committed to what he’s doing...His whole attitude now as he’s matured, physically and mentally, as a player, he’s able to handle all that.
It’s awfully nice to have a big that can make good decisions and that can help defensively. His all-around game just keeps getting better.”
Wisconsin shot 62.5 percent (15-for-24) from the field in the first half, put three players in double figures and built its lead to as large as 27 points thanks in part to Kaminsky going 11-for-13 from the floor and 4-for-5 from 3-point range.
“It just goes along with versatility,” Kaminsky said about his ability to play inside or out. “They were double teaming on the post and it wasn’t working, so I’m going to try and post up and look for someone else or try and take it out to the perimeter. They left me open a couple of times and I was able to knock it down.”
When the Broncos (3-1) chose to try and slow down Kaminsky on the offensive end, the Badgers made them pay as they were able to find ways to get open shots, especially Nigel Hayes and Traevon Jackson, who scored 15 and 11 points, respectively. Jackson recorded a season-high five assists to two turnovers and did most of his damage in the second half going 4-for-5 from the field.
The Broncos extra attention to Kaminsky allowed Hayes the freedom to do damage in the low post and get to the free throw line, as he was the only Badgers player to attempt free throws and finished 6-for-6.
It also resulted in the Badgers having balanced scoring with the bench scoring a season-high 19 points, but paid the biggest benefit to Kaminsky, who has scored back-to-back 20-point games for just the second time in his career.
“It was just one of those nights where everything feels good and the ball is just going in,” Kaminsky said. “I was getting some open looks. My teammates were doing a good job of finding me on some 3s. I was able to get some stuff to the rim so it was just going well.”
While Wisconsin’s main scorer was getting his points, the Badgers made life challenging for Anthony Drmic, who was averaging 20.7 points a game but finished with a season-low seven points on 3-for-10 shooting because senior Josh Gasser pestered him all night.
“We’re a good basketball team when we set each other up, and we’re not doing a good enough job of that right now,” Boise State Head Coach Leon Rice said. “When guys give Anthony shots, he’ll make them. That’s something we have to get a lot better at.”The 54 points is another step in the right direction for the Badgers defense after holding Boise State to 37 percent from the field in the first half and 42.9 percent for the game. Even if the Broncos were able to get dribble penetration, Wisconsin did well in contesting shots, as Kaminsky led the Badgers with three of the team’s four blocks.
“It’s getting better every game,” Kaminsky said about Wisconsin’s defense. “We are learning things from previous games that we can take going forward and hopefully we keep building on it.”