Florida vs. Wisconsin recap: Badgers have just enough in 59-53 win

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin and Florida met for a highly anticipated home opener at the Kohl Center Tuesday night. The ensuing action didn't disappoint.

MADISON, Wis. -- Travevon Jackson’s second half was anything but pretty.

The final 8.5 seconds at the Kohl Center Tuesday night, though, say everything you need to know about the junior.

All five of the Westerville, Ohio, native’s turnovers came in the second half, including three forced by the Gators’ trapping press defense. Still, with the Badgers clinging to a three-point lead and the shot and game clock winding down, Jackson pulled up from just right of the top of the key and buried a jump shot that sealed a 59-53 victory for UW.

"They got a switch and I really didn’t have too many driving lanes the whole game," Jackson said afterward. "I knew if I could flick my wrist it had a chance of going in. I was confident it was going in."

With about a seven-second difference between the shot clock and the play clock to begin the possession, No. 10 Florida elected to play defense down three points on the final possession. The Gators had forced nine second-half turnovers (including Jackson’s five), but most had come in full-court situations.

"There are things we’ll work on, but [Jackson’s] been in so many tough situations that I wasn’t trading him in those last five minutes," UW head coach Bo Ryan said of his point guard.

No. 20 Wisconsin (2-0) again got balanced scoring, including a team-high 16 points from sophomore forward Sam Dekker (5-of-10 overall, 2-of-5 from three-point range), 13 from Jackson and 11 from senior guard Ben Brust. One game after giving up 76 points to St. John’s, though, the defense was the story for UW against Florida (1-1). Despite being the smaller team, Wisconsin edged the Gators, 31-28, on the glass and allowed just six offensive rebounds.

"Having guards that are such good rebounders is a treat for us," Dekker said.

Brust finished with a game-high nine rebounds, one shy of a double-double.

"I just try to have a good idea of where the ball is going to come off the rim and just go after it," Brust said.

The Gators started fast, hitting six of their first eight shots -- including three threes from sophomore guard Michael Frazier II in a 2:08 span -- and jumped out to a 16-4 lead.

Then the UW defense clamped down. The Gators managed just 10 points in the remaining 12:53 of the first half and were held to no field goals and two free throws over the final 7:53. Over the final 32:53, Florida shot just 33.3 percent (13-of-39) from the floor.

Though Frazier finished with a game-high 20 points, he was held to seven points and three shot attempts in the second half. Senior forward Patric Young was held to just eight points on 2-of-6 shooting.

"It was good to see Frank battle him down low and he kept him in check pretty good," Brust said. "To have a guy like Nigel [Hayes], a freshman, come in and give us big minutes is huge."

Hayes added eight points (4-of-7) in 18 minutes, though he was again limited by foul trouble, picking up his third early in the second half and his fourth at the 6:09 mark.

"I thought it was a huge, huge, huge game for Nigel," Jackson said. "He’s so talented and I was just so encouraged that he came in and attacked."

"He likes to compete," Ryan added. "He’s got the body to do it and he’s got the court sense where he picks things up rather quickly."

Wisconsin needed the contributions in the first half, when Kaminsky picked up his second foul at the 10:26 mark and sat the rest of the half. Without him on the floor, though, the Badgers out-scored the Gators, 25-10, by going with smaller line-up combinations and getting up and down the floor to establish some offensive rhythm.

"Somebody out there told me they kind of threw us in the deep end to start the year," Dekker said when asked about opening the home slate against a Top 10 team. "I don’t really look at it that way. I just think we’re a good team playing against other good teams."

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