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Reliving Nigel Hayes’s 10 assists in Wisconsin’s win vs. Syracuse

Nigel Hayes had 10 assists. Let’s watch each of them over and over.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Nigel Hayes has taken some flak for taking (and, more importantly, missing) too many outside shots this year. “Get thee to the paint!” the critics howl.

Against Syracuse, anyhow, Hayes decided to park himself in the high post and focus on what folksy football coaches call “the throw game”: passing. The result was 10 assists, each of them a unique, beautiful snowflake that I could watch over and over. And now I will. Join me.

First, some crisp passing from Vitto Brown to Hayes to Bronson Koenig leads to an open three. This will be the first of many “hockey assists” for Brown.

Next, let’s reverse that action and go Koenig to Hayes to Brown. Pro tip: don’t give Vitto Brown room to step into a three.

With the threes dropping, things started opening up for Ethan Happ down low. This time, we go Khalil Iverson to Hayes, then a drop pass to Happ for the flush.

Next, watch Hayes just dominating. Here he finds Zak Showalter for an open three, but it misses. So Hayes rebounds it and finds Koenig for another open three. He doesn’t miss.

Now we’re in the second half, and the Badgers have extended their lead back to 10 points thanks to yeoman work down low from Happ. Watch the defense collapse when Hayes fakes the pass down, leaving Brown wide open.

What’s this? Hayes actually spent one possession outside the high post? This time we find him in the short corner. For some reason, Brown was double-teamed on the perimeter and he finds Hayes down low, where there’s just one defender trying to cover both Hayes and Happ. That won’t end well for Syracuse.

Ah, good, Hayes back to his home in the high post. Here he serves as a mere conduit for the ball as it flows from Brown to Happ, who finishes with authority.

I coach under-10 girls soccer. Well, assistant coach. Anyhow, we tell our kids: “The most important shape in soccer is the triangle.” Turns out it works in basketball too:

This is almost an identical play to the GIF before last: Brown at the top of the key feeds Hayes in the high post, who feeds Happ for a dunk. That’s a good play.

Last, but by far the best, watch this:

Wow. Nigel Hayes eviscerated Syracuse from the high post. And it was good.