Without the 7-foot center’s presence in the middle of the lane, Rutgers – the worst shooting team in the conference - shot 66.7 percent in the second half to erase a double-digit deficit to shock the fourth-ranked Badgers, 67-62, at the RAC Sunday night.
Last in the league in scoring (54.0), field goal percentage (38.1) and 3-point percentage (28.8) and free throw percentage (59.7), Rutgers (10-7, 2-2 Big Ten) shot as high as 78.6 percent in the second half, made five straight 3-pointers after halftime and scored 20 points on its first 11 possessions.
The Scarlet Knights also were clutch from the free throw line in shooting 80 percent, helping them outscore Wisconsin (15-2, 3-1) 44-27 in the second half.
And while Rutgers continued to stay hot, the Badgers couldn’t buy a bucket. UW went nearly seven minutes without a field goal during the last half of the second half and shot 23.8 percent from 3-point range for the game, including missing five of its final six 3-point attempts.
“We started to score inside and that left our 3-point shooter open,” said UW coach Bo Ryan. “I’d love to have those shots again. I thought we had more wide-open shots in this game than any other Big Ten game.”
That couldn’t be truer of senior Josh Gasser and junior Sam Dekker. Gasser led the Badgers shooting 45.1 percent from 3-point range and Dekker was second at 37.5, but the duo combined to go 0-for-9 from 3-point range.
“You can’t get on the road in the Big Ten and get away with something like that,” said Ryan.
The Badgers also didn’t cash in from the free throw line to disrupt Rutgers’ momentum, going 9-for-16 for the game and 6-for-12 in the second half.
“We left a lot of points at the line,” said UW associate head coach Greg Gard. “We don’t shoot it well in the second half, or really for the game. That was a chance to get some separation and hold them at bay.”
After being held of practice Friday and Saturday, Kaminsky traveled with the team but was ruled out prior to the game. Believing to have sustained a concussion during UW’s win over Purdue Wednesday, Kaminsky started developing concussion-like symptoms Thursday.
“You play with what you have,” said Ryan. I thought we were battling in there.”
That was just part of the Badgers problems. Dekker tied Nigel Hayes with a team-high 15 points, but didn’t score in the final 10:41 and didn’t attempt a shot in the final 6:10. Gasser was saddled with foul trouble and fellow senior guard Traevon Jackson missed the final 12:33 with a foot injury that could be serious.
"I don't think it's good,” said Gard, “but we'll see when we get back."
Bronson Koenig – making his first career start for Kaminsky – finished with 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
Wisconsin defended Myles Mack well in the first half, holding the senior to 1-for-6 shooting, but couldn’t contain him in the second half in scoring 19 of his game-high 21 points. Kadeem Jack added 20 – making them the only two players in double figures to help the score register the biggest upset in school history, surpassing its win over No. 6 West Virginia in 1982.
“Tougher shots became easier,” said Gard. “We never were in a very good rhythm offensively, which I think affected us defensively in the second half. Credit to them. They made plays when they had do and we didn’t.”