EVANSTON, Ill. — When Northwestern tried to clog up the middle Sunday night, Wisconsin stepped back to score from beyond the 3-point arc.
And when there were openings in the paint, the No. 4 Badgers also were effective inside on the way to an 81-58 Big Ten victory over the Wildcats in front of 8,117 fans at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
“When a team is that potent, (they) can hit you from every angle,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “They’re a truly elite team. … In a game like this, a lot of things have to go right for us to have a chance.”
Forwards Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker each scored 16 points as Wisconsin (14-1, 2-0 Big Ten) led wire to wire. The Badgers built a 20-plus-point lead just before halftime and never saw it slip under 19 points in the second half.
Kaminsky also had 10 rebounds and six assists, forward Duje Dukan had 14 points, and forward Nigel Hayes added 13 for Wisconsin, which took its lone loss against then-No. 4 Duke on Dec. 3.
Kaminsky scored in double figures for the 14th game, and he recorded his seventh double-double. He had only five points at halftime, but Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said Kaminsky’s contributions came in other areas.
“He didn’t force anything, he had the first four defensive rebounds, changed some shots and (had) five assists in the first half,” Ryan said. “People that look at the stats would (would see) Kaminsky had five points … (but) that’s Frank Kaminsky. He’ll play the other parts of the game, and that’s why he’s one of the better players in the country.”
Guard Tre Demps had a game-high 17 points, and guard Bryant McIntosh added 13 for the Wildcats (10-5, 1-1 Big Ten) in their conference home opener.
The Big Ten preseason favorite, Wisconsin held a 43-21 halftime advantage and led by as many as 28 points in the second half. The Badgers shot 12-for-25 (48 percent) on 3-pointers and 30-for-57 (52.6 percent) overall.
Northwestern finished 24-for-61 (39.3 percent) from the floor.
“I thought shot selection had a lot to do with that shooting percentage,” Ryan said. “We didn’t force anything.”
Ryan earned his 158th Big Ten win, tying him with Walter Meanwell (1912-17, 1921-34) for most in school history.
The Badgers shot 8-for-15 from 3-point range in the first half. Dekker hit four of six long-range shots for 12 first-half points, while Hayes and Dukan had 10 points apiece.
Demps scored 10 first-half points for the Wildcats, who managed hit just eight of 28 attempts from the field (28.6 percent) before the break.
Wisconsin hit six of its first seven shots from behind the arc, opening a 25-11 lead on Dekker’s fourth 3-point try.
At intermission, the Badgers led 43-21, the biggest margin of the half.
NOTES: Wisconsin F Frank Kaminsky earned Big Ten player of the week honors after averaging 19.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in two games. Sunday’s game was a homecoming for Kaminsky, who played high school basketball at Benet Academy in Lisle, Ill. … Before Sunday, the Badgers were outscoring opponents by an average of 20.9 points and were sixth nationally on defense, giving up an average 53.8 points per game. Wisconsin was fourth in the nation in fewest fouls (13.7 per game) and had the second-fewest average turnovers (8.6). … Former Wildcats player and coach Rich Falk was among four former players and one team honored with induction into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame on Sunday. Falk still holds the team’s single-game scoring record with a 49-point effort in 1964. … The Badgers continue Big Ten play at home Wednesday against Purdue. The Wildcats are idle until a game Jan. 11 at Michigan State.
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