No. 4 Wisconsin cruises past Northwestern 81-58
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) It was Sam Dekker on the outside, and Frank Kaminsky all over the court. Duje Dukan provided a lift when he checked into the game, and Nigel Hayes had his share of positive moments.
No. 4 Wisconsin just overwhelmed Northwestern with its wide array of offensive options.
Kaminsky and Dekker scored 16 points apiece, leading the Badgers to an 81-58 victory Sunday night.
''We've had a few nights like that this year, where we have a multitude of guys putting shots in the bucket,'' Dekker said, ''and I think that's what's cool about our team this year. We have a lot of guys that are confident to take those shots.''
Wisconsin (14-1, 2-0 Big Ten) made 12 3-pointers and shot 53 percent from the field overall. Dukan had 14 points in Wisconsin's seventh consecutive victory, and Hayes finished with 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting.
Kaminsky also had 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals in his final game at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The senior forward from nearby Lisle played on the same high school team as Northwestern point guard Dave Sobolewski. His mother, Mary, played volleyball for the Wildcats and his uncle, Jim Stack, is the fifth-leading scorer in Northwestern history with 1,583 points.
''It's always nice to come back home and play in front of so many family and friends,'' Kaminsky said. ''Just the support I have in this area is great, and it's nice to be able to play in front of them.''
Dukan also has strong ties to the area. He was a prep star in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, and his father, Ivica, works in the Chicago Bulls' scouting department.
Tre Demps scored 17 points for Northwestern (10-5, 1-1), which had won four in a row. Freshman Bryant McIntosh finished with 13 points.
''Our guys are fighting and they're getting better,'' Wildcats coach Chris Collins said. ''And the way you get better is playing in games like this. And you know what, sometimes you get knocked to the canvas.''
This one got out of hand in a hurry, with Wisconsin picking apart Northwestern's defense with smart passing and crisp long-range shooting. The Wildcats played man-to-man defense at the start, and then tried a zone, but the experienced Badgers had an answer for everything they tried to do.
''There's universal reads that I deal with because I'm old school that still work,'' Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.
''You can get shots if you stay true to your spacing, if you stay true to the game and how it really works,'' Ryan continued. ''So people changing defenses has not been that big of an issue.''
Dekker made his first four 3-point attempts, including one with Northwestern's Scottie Lindsey right in his face with 10:28 left. The Wildcats and Badgers then traded layups before Traevon Jackson drove into the lane and kicked it out to Dukan for a 3 that made it 30-13 with 8:20 to go.
Josh Gasser's 3 in the final minute sent Wisconsin to the locker room with a 43-21 lead. The Badgers shot 53.6 percent (15 for 28) in the first half, including an 8-for-15 start from 3-point range. The Wildcats missed their first seven 3-point attempts and shot 28.6 percent (8 for 28) in the first 20 minutes.
''They kind of strung our defense out and they made shots,'' Demps said. ''It's tough to lose on your home court like that.''
Dukan went 2 for 3 from 3-point range and also had four rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes. He also had a special guest in the crowd, with Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic coming out to watch him play.
''He's just a good family friend of mine,'' Dukan said. ''We played together in the Nike Hoop Summit back in 2010, so we've just been friends ever since.''
Wisconsin: The Badgers improved to 158-66 in the Big Ten under Ryan, who matched Walter Meanwell for the most conference wins in school history. ... Wisconsin has won its last five road games against Northwestern.
Northwestern: The Wildcats had limited opponents to 58.9 points per game. Wisconsin's point total was the highest for a Northwestern opponent this season. ... Northwestern split the season series with Wisconsin last year, losing 76-49 at home last Jan. 2 before winning 65-56 in Madison on Jan. 29. The Wildcats are at Wisconsin on Feb. 7.
Wisconsin hosts Purdue on Wednesday night.
Northwestern visits Michigan State next Sunday.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap