MADISON -- Riding two wins following a tough loss to Duke earlier this month, Wisconsin came into Saturday's game vs. Nicholls State as 37.5-point favorites. The Badgers showed from the beginning that they were the superior team in their 10th victory on the season and Bo Ryan's 200th home victory, routing the Colonels 86-43 at the Kohl Center.
"They just stayed to the task in the first 20 [minutes]," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "Very few bad shots, moving the ball, getting the ball where we wanted it."
Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker, who both found success early, led the Badgers from the beginning. Hayes found his success by working his patented jump shot from just outside the block, while Dekker looked to attack the rim early. Dekker continued to look more confident with his injured ankle, following a 17-point performance on Wednesday against UW-Milwaukee with another 17. Their contributions helped the Badgers to a 47-15 lead at the halfway mark on their way to shooting 70 percent in the half.
"[My ankle is] getting better, it's the best its been in a while," Dekker said, "I like playing aggressive. I like making things happen."
Nicholls State played a more inspired second half after going into the break down 32 points. The Colonels had doubled their first-half point total halfway through the second half en route to shooting 47.8 percent in the period. They were able to find more success putting the ball in the hoop after shooting a dismal 24 percent in the first half and 16.7 from three. Their efforts in the second half were still not enough to bring the game any closer.
The Badgers seemed to coast all game, though, especially in the second half. While on the stat sheet the Badgers didn't stand out, they were able to never allow the Colonels back in. The Badgers only shot 33 percent from the field in the second half, but were still able to score 39 points in the frame.
The Badgers heavily relied on their supporting cast getting to the hoop and rarely looked for All-American Frank Kaminsky. The senior found success, as did everyone, it seemed, but his number was rarely called. The 7-footer finished the game with what seemed to be a quiet 10 points. Josh Gasser also notched a season-high 14 points for the Badgers.
"[We're] pretty happy with where we are," Gasser said. "The real season is about to come up, so we gotta put everything behind us, learn from what we've done, take the good, learn from the bad and focus on what's to come."
The Badgers did struggle shooting the three, firing at a clip of 28.6 percent for the game. While they only took 14 three pointers, the Badgers went cold in the second half when they only made one of their attempted eight shots from beyond the arc.
Wisconsin will have eight days off before traveling to Berkeley, Calif., for a game against Cal Dec. 22nd at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN2.