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Wisconsin rides hot start, gritty finish to huge road win over Iowa

Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker combined to outscore Iowa's starting front court 36-8 as the Badgers swept the Hawkeyes with an impressive 79-74 win in Iowa City.

Freshman Bronson Koenig broke loose for 12 points Saturday.
Freshman Bronson Koenig broke loose for 12 points Saturday.
Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin team that existed one month ago would have crumbled Saturday. When Mike Gesell pushed a prototypical Iowa fast break that ended with a pass from Roy Devyn Marble to Aaron White for a layup, the Badgers found themselves down, 64-60, with only 6:27 left in a hostile environment.

Faced with the possibility of squandering their own torrid first-half shooting performance, the Badgers (22-5, 9-5 Big Ten) needed to retaliate with a crucial game-closing run. Wisconsin answered the bell, outscoring Iowa 21-12 in the final six minutes. As a result, the Badgers overtook the Hawkeyes (19-7, 8-5) for third place in the Big Ten standings with a season sweep.

Bo Ryan continued his coaching magic away on the road, now 74-68 (.521) away from the Kohl Center in 13 seasons at UW.

Wisconsin spotted Iowa a quick five points to begin the game, but recovered from turnovers on three of its first four possessions to zoom out to a 19-11 lead eight minutes into the game. In particular, Frank Kaminsky set the tone for the entire afternoon, getting involved in the paint, with his passing and on the glass.

Additionally, Bronson Koenig broke out of a shooting slump to torch Iowa for 10 quick first-half points. The freshman guard sank his first four shots, including two 3-pointers, and finished 5-of-7 from the field for 12 points. Koenig added two assists in 23 minutes.

Twelve minutes into the game, the Badgers were still shooting 74 percent as a team. A Sam Dekker 3-pointer pushed Wisconsin to its largest lead of the game at 34-24. Moments later he punctuated the UW charge with a dunk in traffic.

But Iowa would not let Wisconsin have all the fun. Behind Gabe Olaseni and Marble's facilitating, the Hawkeyes knocked down 8-of-11 shots at one point to keep pace.

The tempo appeared headed very much in Iowa's favor at such a pace. That is, until the Hawkeyes' own 2-3 zone started to put the brakes on the Wisconsin offense. After Dekker's slam, UW looked sluggish and remained scoreless for the next four minutes, making only one more field goal for the rest of the half.

Defensively, a few Badgers looked uncertain on several switches, but luckily, Iowa missed plenty of open looks too. This allowed UW to hold a 40-31 lead at halftime.

Wisconsin finished the half shooting 57.1 percent, led by Dekker's 12 points and six rebounds. Marble countered with 12 points and four assists, as Wisconsin held Iowa to 42.2 percent shooting before the break.

Though junior Josh Oglesby was relatively quiet, he proved able to get some clean looks against the Badger defense, which would become a major theme of the second half.

Iowa came out of the locker room much more accurate, with an 8-1 spurt to start the second half.  As the Badgers countered and the game began to seesaw, it was Oglesby's time to shine. After seven quick points from Oglesby, Iowa took advantage of a bad pass and ensuing foul by Nigel Hayes on Olaseni. The Hawkeye big man then sank two free throws that gave Iowa its first lead of the game, 52-51, with 11 minutes left to play.

On the ensuing possession, Koenig and Dekker lazily advanced the ball against minimal pressure, leading to an inexcusable 10-second call that turned the ball back over to the Hawkeyes. Oglesby immediately sank yet another jumper.

Josh Gasser answered with one of his four 3-pointers -- each one just as clutch as the previous one against Iowa's zone -- to tie the game at 54. Wisconsin even regained the lead momentarily, 58-57, on another pretty play by Kaminsky moments later.

But besides a pair of fortunate late shot-clock conversions, Wisconsin was running out of steam. As White's fastbreak lay-in put the Hawkeyes up four, the once quiet home crowd was now buzzing. While the Badgers allowed teams like Minnesota and Northwestern to run away from them in late January, on this day, a wiser Wisconsin club turned toward its point guard to dig a little bit deeper.

Traevon Jackson hit a tough baseline jumper at the 5:20 mark to spark a run of 11 Badger points in five possessions to take back the upper hand. Jackson's bucket was followed by a Ben Brust steal and then two Gasser treys sandwiched around a traditional three-point play by Hayes.

Meanwhile, the red hot Oglesby was making life miserable for Koenig on the other end. Oglesby hit his final three shots, the last of which gave Iowa its last lead of the game at 72-71.

Oglesby scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half and missed only four shots. Marble added 21 points, but Wisconsin limited the versatile White to just four points.

With one minute remaining, Ryan took a 30-second timeout to talk things over. Wisconsin went right to the big man in the paint and Kaminsky provided the go-ahead hoop off a Gasser feed.

Kaminsky corralled a loose ball on the defensive end when Marble lost control, and hit four of UW's final six free throws to ice the game. The junior center led Wisconsin with 21 points.

Dekker posted his fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, despite getting shaken up on a foul from Gesell just after halftime.

Even though the Badgers had some trouble holding on to a few rebounds throughout the game, Wisconsin held an overall rebounding advantage, 35-33, aided by Kaminsky's four offensive boards. The Badgers also kept Iowa off the free throw line, where the Hawkeyes hit 8-of-9, thus hitting on two of the three keys to victory discussed on this site before the game.

Iowa's Melsahn Basabe missed the game with an illness and was replaced in teh starting lineup by Zach McCabe. McCabe was held scoreless and missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer late when UW blanketed Oglesby and Marble.


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