Casey Cook, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound senior power forward, hit 8 of 11 shots, including 3 of 3 three-pointers, to lead all scores with 21 points. The Badgers came away with a 72-61 win, but Cook earned plenty of respect with his performance.
"He actually matched up pretty well with the guys tonight," UC-Santa Barbara coach Bob Williams said. "He's as physical, he's as big as they are and he bounces the ball.
"He's actually quite a bit like the Wilkinson kid in terms of what their skill level is and the way they play. I think Wilkinson might be a little better athlete than Casey, but not a whole lot. So he's kind of our version of Wilkinson."
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan agreed.
"We said he's got distance out to the line," Ryan said, in reference to the three-pointers. "He's kind of like our Mike Wilkinson. Mike has done that to some teams. And then you have to extend and then maybe that opens something else inside. He shot it extremely well."
Cook scored his 11 second-half points in a 12-minute span, helping the Gauchos pull as close as 63-56 with 4:29 left to play. In addition to showing off a perimeter game, he raised havoc for the Badgers inside with a deft touch near the basket. He also had six rebounds.
Cook was forced to play a hefty 37 minutes, though, due to injuries that have UC-Santa Barbara held down to just nine players.
"We kept saying, if we can wear him out than maybe at the other end he'll give up defensively maybe some things," Ryan said. "I think that happened a few times too. But offensively he really looked comfortable and fortunately he didn't get any more than what he did. He's a good player."
"Casey really is the veteran with the most experience," Williams said. "He's the guy that has the most experience at taking shots and playing at this level.
"It's also pretty comforting to know that there really isn't a sub for you. You've got the confidence to just play. Casey's in a good rhythm right now, he feels good about his game."