December 27, 2014

Wisconsin has gotten plenty of time to recover from its trip to the West Coast and will try to avoid showing any rust in its final tune-up before Big Ten play.

The sixth-ranked Badgers will also seek to take another sterling record into the conference season after a visit from Buffalo on Sunday night.

Wisconsin made just one trip outside its borders - winning the eight-team Battle 4 Atlantis over Thanksgiving - before a 68-56 win at California on Monday. Nigel Hayes pushed his team to 11-1 with 17 points and a career high-tying 13 rebounds, his third career double-double.

"Nigel was great the whole game," forward Frank Kaminsky said. ''He was doing a lot of things inside, setting the tone inside. When Nigel is playing like that, it makes it so much easier for everyone around him. He had a great game from start to finish."

Kaminsky had 14 points and matched a career best with his sixth consecutive game in double figures.

The senior will try to set a personal mark while leading the Badgers to a win before their conference opener Wednesday at home game against Penn State.

Wisconsin had a school-record 16-0 start last season before a 1-5 stretch cost it a chance at the Big Ten title. The Badgers finished tied for second - three games behind Michigan - but later made a run to their third Final Four.

Buffalo (7-2) will face its second national semifinalist from last season Sunday and lost 71-52 at No. 1 Kentucky on Nov. 16. That scoreline is somewhat deceiving since the Bulls held a 38-33 halftime lead and forced the Wildcats to abandon their platoon system at points before being held to 14 second-half points.

The Bulls, who have never played Wisconsin, have won three in a row and four of five on the road but those wins have come against unheralded teams. Buffalo is 0-14 against AP Top 25 teams since the beginning of the 1997-98 season and has lost by an average of 30.7 points in its 10 road games against those opponents.

The Bulls didn't face any AP Top 25 teams while going 19-10 in former Duke star Bobby Hurley's first season as coach. They lost three starters, including MAC player of the year Javon McCrea, from a team that finished atop the conference's East division.

Justin Moss has replaced some of that production by averaging 17.3 points in his second season with the program, a major jump from his mere 3.8 points per game in 2013-14. It's the second-highest improvement in scoring among Division I players, trailing only Washington State's Josh Hawkinson.

Moss had 24 points - two shy of matching a career high - in an 88-62 rout of Niagara on Dec. 19.

The junior forward was held to eight points on 3-of-13 shooting in the loss to Kentucky.

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