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Wisconsin vs. Prairie View A&M recap: Badgers finish non-conference schedule undefeated after 80-43 win

The non-conference season is officially in the books. At 13-0, Wisconsin seems more ready than ever for Big Ten play.

Mike McGinnis

MADISON -- If there was any worry about a 14-day layoff or a case of the holiday legs in general, Wisconsin pretty much did away with it on the first possession Saturday.

After winning the tip, the No. 4 Badgers went right to the post, where redshirt junior center Frank Kaminsky made a strong move to the hoop and laid in an easy two.

Call it a harbinger of things to come on this afternoon at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers (13-0) didn't shoot the lights out in their return to action, but really they got whatever shot they wanted, whenever they wanted it. UW was never threatened and easily closed out the non-conference schedule as it topped Prairie View A&M, 80-43. The win means Wisconsin will enter Big Ten play Thursday against Northwestern sporting a still-perfect record.

"If you break a season down, which a lot of people do, you say non-conference and then conference," Ryan said. "To finish [the non-conference portion] without a mark on the right-hand side, I'm very proud of it. But we also know what happens with the workload now. It gets a lot heavier."

Wisconsin easily outpaced Prairie View A&M in most categories, but held particularly demanding leads in points off turnovers (17 to two) and on the glass (42 to 25). The Badgers had nearly as many offensive rebounds (16) as A&M had on the defensive end (18).

Wisconsin finished 25-of-58 (43.1 percent) from the floor, but converted on just 9-of-27 (33.3 percent) from three-point range.

"A lot of those looked like they were down, but we're going to have to shoot it better than that in Big Ten play," Ryan said.

More pleasing to the UW coach: The Badgers turned the ball over just two times and didn't give the ball away in the second half.

Wisconsin had four players score in double figures, which has become the norm. At least four have reached that mark in four straight games and nine times this season.

Joining the double-figures club for the second game in a row -- and the second time in his career -- was freshman forward Nigel Hayes, who chipped in a sparkling line of 10 points (2-of-4 overall), four rebounds, three blocks, two assists, one steal and no turnovers in 16 minutes. It was maybe his most complete performance yet as a Badger.

"He's an aggressive young man, he's strong with the ball, he works angles well," Ryan said. "And he's smart."

Hayes was too much to handle for the Panthers' interior defense, regularly catching the ball and either getting a good scoring look or earning himself a trip to the free throw line with a strong move to the hoop. Over Wisconsin's first 11 games, Hayes attempted 21 free throws and made 10 (47.6 percent). In the last two games, he's 19-of-26 (73 percent).

"It's about my teammates doing a good job of finding me in open spots," Hayes said. "I just have to make sure I go to the line and start making them a little more. I think I missed [three] today."

Sam Dekker (16 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes) posted the third double-double of his career. All three have come in the last six games. The sophomore finished 6-of-10 from the floor, including long jump shots and a couple of monstrous dunks. The biggest came on a lob pass from Hayes that appeared to be going over Dekker's head, but the Sheboygan, Wis., native reached back high above his head, caught the ball with one hand and finished it.

"See, the theory behind the pass was, if I throw the ball near the rim, Sam dunks it and we all clap. It may make Wisconsin nightly news," Hayes deadpanned. "If I throw the ball high, almost out of bounds and behind the backboard and Sam dunks it, now we're talking SportsCenter Top 10."

"I thought there was no way in the world Sam was going to catch that pass with one hand," Ryan said of Dekker's conversion.

Dekker now leads the team in scoring (14.5 points per game) and rebounding (6.2 rebounds per game).

Twelve players saw action for the Badgers and all eight players in Wisconsin's regular rotation played at least 14 minutes, but nobody played more than 28.