MADISON -- After last season's hotly-contested Iowa-Wisconsin game, Tuesday's promised even more excitement with both teams in the top 25. The Badgers also had a shot to reclaim a share of the Big Ten's top spot alongside Maryland.
Tuesday's matchup was nothing like 2014's 79-74 Wisconsin win, as the Badgers jumped out to an early lead and never looked back from an 82-50 victory at the Kohl Center.
Wisconsin played arguably its most complete game of the season season with a quick start against a formidable opponent in the Hawkeyes. UW looked sound in all facets of the game and evenly distributed the wealth with four starters reaching double-digits by the end of the game.
"I thought we did a lot of good things," UW coach Bo Ryan said. "You don't hold a team like that, for that long, without having guys really buy in and doing their job."
"We didn't get the concentration [we needed]," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery added. "It takes tremendous concentration and effort to beat a team of this caliber, with this much experience."
The Badgers were led by Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky, who both found a way to be active on the boards and put the ball in the hoop. Dekker finished with 17 and eight rebounds, while Kaminsky recorded his eighth double-double on the season, scoring 13 points, grabbing a game-high 11 and adding six assists.
In the first half, the Badgers wasted no time taking control, starting with a 13-4 lead and increasing it from there. The first 13 points of the game were scored in the first four minutes of the game and saw every starter but Dekker score during that time. Nigel Hayes scored six of the Badgers' first 15 points and finished with eight in the half.
Dekker may not have gotten into the action early, but once he scored on a three-pointer at the 10:01 mark, it seemed at times as though he couldn’t be stopped. Dekker led all scorers in the half with 10 points and had six rebounds.
In the second half, the Badgers picked up right where they left off thanks to a halftime speech by redshirt senior Josh Gasser. The Badgers kept filling the basket at a constant clip, increasing their lead to 34 points at one time. Dekker continued to find success shooting, as did Hayes, who finished the game with 16 points. After a shutout in the first half, the bench even got into the scoring in the second half, with 17 points led by Duje Dukan's eight.
"Josh said something to us [during halftime] that we haven't put together a good 40 minutes, a complete 40 minutes, all season," Dekker said. "He wanted us to continue that in the second half, so I think we were as close to a complete 40 minutes as we have been all year."
"The one Big Ten loss we had against Rutgers, I mean we were up 12 at half or something, eight at half and then we crapped the bed," Gasser added. "Even if we're winning at halftime, you just want to complete it. You want to play a full 40 minutes."
In the second half, Wisconsin fans held their breath when Gasser took the brunt end of a hard screen and injured his left shoulder. He went straight off the court to the locker room with the trainer. Luckily for the Badgers, the injury was not severe and the redshirt senior returned to the court at the 9:51 mark.
"I don't know," Gasser said when asked about how the injury occurred. "I'm alright, though."
"Josh is Captain America. Josh is the hero of our team," Kaminsky added. "Josh is the best."
Gasser passed a physical examination before being allowed to reenter the game. When he returned, he and Iowa's Peter Jok exchanged words, and a Gasser pointed up to the scoreboard.
"I was just checking the score for myself, but that's just the game of basketball," Gasser said. "[It's just] friendly banter on the court."
On of the many bright spots from the game was the continued evolution of Bronson Koenig. The sophomore started his third career game Tuesday night and came in averaging 11.5 points per game in his previous two starts. He continued his stellar scoring with 13 points, but more importantly was his ability to handle the ball. Koenig ranks third in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio and helped his cause by not turning the ball over in the game and playing 34 minutes.
The Badgers as a team only turned the ball over once on a shot clock violation, which Dekker said he would take the blame for.
"Anytime you only turn the ball over one time and you follow the scouting report defensively, which coach [Gary] Close did a great job of, you're going to put yourself in a good position to win," Gasser said. "We hadn't really shown [our performance] all year.
"One turnover? Come on. I thought our guys did an excellent job making the extra pass," Ryan said. "You have to give our guys a lot of credit. There aren't too many times you can do that."
Another positive from the game was the play of Zak Showalter. After Koenig had played a career-high 37 minutes against Nebraska in Wisconsin's last game, he and Gasser were spelled for durations of Tuesday night's contest. Showalter played 18 minutes and scored five points, assisting on two baskets.
Wisconsin next plays Saturday at Michigan. ESPN’s College GameDay will be in Ann Arbor for the game.