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Men’s basketball: Frontcourt paves the way for Wisconsin’s win over Illini

first_imgWisconsin’s bench did not provide many points – or minutes – for the No. 5 Wisconsin men’s basketball team Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center.But they, along with Wisconsin’s backcourt, weren’t always needed in Sunday’s 68-49 stomping of Illinois thanks to the efforts of the usual prolific trio of forwards Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes, who once again dominated, sending the Badgers to their eighth straight win.The trio combined for 47 of Wisconsin’s 68 points, going 20-for-32 (62.5 percent) from the floor. In the first half, Kaminsky, Dekker and Hayes had 29 of the Badgers’ 32 points, missing just three of their 16 field goal attempts.Kaminsky led all scorers Sunday, dropping his ninth 20-point game of the season, with 23 points. It was the seven-footer’s sixth 20-point performance in the Big Ten this year. He also hauled in a game-high 11 rebounds for his conference-best 10th double double.Seventeen of Kaminsky’s 23 points came in the first half as he was 8 of 9 (88.9 percent) from the floor over the first twenty minutes of play. He finished the day 11 of 16 (68.8 percent) overall.“I thought Kaminsky was terrific,” Illinois head coach John Groce said. “I thought that he scored it at all three levels from the court. He made very difficult shots. He passed it well, obviously had a double double. I’ve watched him play a lot. I think he’s certainly one of the country’s best players, and today he played like it.”Despite his strong performance overall, and especially in the first half, Kaminsky didn’t score his first points of the second half until four minutes and eight seconds were left in the game. But during that stretch, Wisconsin never wavered and let the lead dip below 10 points for just seven seconds.“It just says that anybody can step up at any time,” Kaminsky said. “Sam [Dekker] had a stretch, Bronson [Koenig] had a stretch where he was scoring. Nigel [Hayes] had some big buckets, so it just goes to show that we can beat you in a lot of different ways.”Hayes finished second on the Badgers with 14 points, scoring 10 of those in the second half while Dekker finished the game with 10 points. Both players added four rebounds.Wisconsin was able to take advantage of some early Illinois fouls in the first half when 6-foot-7 forward Leron Black exited the game with two fouls, forcing the Illini to put a smaller lineup on the floor.Kaminsky rattled off six straight points once Black exited before Dekker and Hayes collectively scored six straight points.Dekker’s final two points of that stretch provided a huge spark for the Badgers toward the end of the first half when he stole the ball from Illinois and took it the other way for a dunk. It put the Badgers up by four, 26-22, and helped the Badgers finish the half on a 10-2 run. Dekker had three steals for the game.“I didn’t think I played very well on the offensive end, so I turned it around and tried to be aggressive defensively,” Dekker said. “And just try to cause some havoc a little bit, and I got a few good steals there in the first half and kind of got us sparked, and then Frank [Kaminsky] took it from there on the offensive end.”Ryan reacts to Hall of Fame nominationSaturday, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan was announced as a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2015.Jason Chan/The Badger HeraldRyan’s collegiate coaching career spans five decades and includes stops at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, UW-Milwaukee and Wisconsin. He’s amassed a 727-226 record (.763 winning percentage) in his career, winning four NCAA III championships at UW-Platteville in 1991, 1995, 1998 and 1999 in addition to one Final Four trip with the Badgers.“It would be a thank you to all the people that I’ve either played for, played with, all the administrators, all the faculty at all the schools where I were, and the players, obviously,” Ryan said on what it would mean to make the Hall of Fame.“I said ‘thanks for making this possible’ to any of the players or coaches or people that have responded to that announcement,” Ryan said as he became teary-eyed. “But, hey, if that would put a smile on the face of the 12th man that I had at Brookhaven Junior High School, Sun Valley [High School], Platteville, Milwaukee, Madison, I’d be pretty happy. I’d be real happy.”Ryan and the rest of the finalists – which includes current Kentucky head coach John Calipari, eight-time NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutumbo and three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, among others – will find out if they made it into the Hall of Fame Monday, April 6, at a press conference prior to the NCAA men’s championship game. A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Hall of Fame.last_img

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