It took Wisconsin a while to get back into the swing of things after nine days away from the court, but the Badgers eventually knocked the rust off and defeated California 68-56 in Berkeley on Monday night.
The Badgers (11-1) made just two of their first 10 shots, finding themselves in a 4-4 dogfight after five minutes with the Golden Bears (10-2). Then Bronson Koenig entered the game and helped Nigel Hayes spark the offense from there. Hayes finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, both team-highs.
Wisconsin extended the lead to 12 points heading into halftime and maintained a double-digit lead for all but a couple minutes in the second half. Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky each added 14 points to give the Badgers their typically balanced scoring attack.
After struggling for much of the first half, Dekker found a comfort zone in the paint and scored 10 points in the second. He utilized his size advantage and converted three post touches against smaller defenders. Kaminsky's shining moment came from the outside, when he nailed a three to answer an 11-2 Golden Bear run that had pulled Cal within eight points with under 10 minutes left.
Cal was paced by Tyrone Wallace, who equaled Hayes with 17 points of his own. Wallace was initially responsible for Cal not getting run out of the gym, scoring 17 of his team's first 27 points. Jordan Mathews tried to take over the scoring load from there, scoring all 15 of his points in the final 12-and-a-half minutes.
But those two received next to no help and Wisconsin was able to calmly answer each of their scoring runs. Kaminsky gave Wisconsin its biggest lead of the game with a little over two minutes left when drew a foul on a three-point attempt. He sank all three free throws to put the Badgers ahead by 19. Collectively, Wisconsin converted 17 of its 18 attempts from the charity stripe.
Wisconsin's final non-conference tune-up comes against Buffalo on Sunday night at the Kohl Center.