No. 12 Wisconsin beats North Dakota 103-85
Frank Kaminsky was open, and the big man was going to take the shot. There was nothing that teammate Traevon Jackson could say to change his mind.
Kaminsky hit that first-half bucket en route to a school-record 43 points, powering No. 12 Wisconsin to a 103-85 win Tuesday night over pesky North Dakota.
"I said one more (pass), one more," Jackson said when asked to recount the moment he knew Kaminsky was going to have a big night. "He said, 'No, feelin' it.' That's exactly what he said."
Sam Dekker added 19 points for the Badgers (4-0), who overcame a career-high 37 points — 26 in the first half — from athletic sharpshooter Troy Huff.
But this night belonged to Kaminsky, the unlikely Badger who broke the school record of 42 points held by Ken Barnes (1965) and Michael Finley (1994).
"When those first couple of shots went in, I kind of said 'I'm feeling it,'" Kaminsky said. "I kept shooting and it kept going in."
Wisconsin shot 59 percent from the field, with Kaminsky (16-of-19 shooting) leading the way. He hit all six of his 3-point attempts and went 5 of 6 from the foul line.
A junior who became a starter this season, Kaminsky got the record with about a minute left after driving the lane and splitting two defenders for an easy layup.
Kaminsky went to the bench with about 5 minutes left with 41 points, prompting groans from the Wisconsin student section. "We want Frank! We Want Frank!" the students chanted before a timeout with 3 minutes left.
"I had no idea until the players on the bench pleaded to give him one more possession," coach Bo Ryan said.
The fans got their wish.
Kaminsky got a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd after setting the record, and some good-natured heckling after the game from teammates Dekker and Jackson (14 points, eight assists).
Sure Kaminsky had 16 points last week in a win over Green Bay, but few saw this outburst coming, not from someone averaging 3.2 points for his career coming into Tuesday.
"The last two games what I've seen, he's really come of age and they've really shown a lot of confidence in him," North Dakota coach Brian Jones said. "The way they shoot the ball already and spread the floor with the other four guys, it makes them that much harder to guard."
Kaminsky's dunk helped Wisconsin gradually turn its 10-point halftime lead into a 76-59 advantage on North Dakota (1-1) with 10:32 left.
The Badgers came out victorious after Kaminsky and Huff traded buckets much of the night. Huff was 15 of 22 from the field, and added nine rebounds.
A week after limiting Florida to 53 points, Wisconsin went up and down the Kohl Center court with a team picked by Big Sky coaches to finish second in the conference. Wisconsin went over the 100-point mark first the first time since a 105-70 win over Eastern Illinois on Dec. 28, 1995.
Lost in the excitement over Kaminsky's outburst — his previous career high was 19 __ was a subpar defensive effort for the Badgers, who had trouble containing North Dakota off the dribble. Or Huff from anywhere on the court, for that matter.
"They're probably going to say we played bad defense," Kaminsky said when asked what other Big Ten coaches might say initially when seeing the 103-85 score.
Given that Huff is from Milwaukee, and his mother, Theresa Huff, is Wisconsin women's basketball career rebounding leader, it would make sense that Huff would want to play well in Madison.
And if Huff needed any more incentive, Jones decided to sit his first-stringers, including Huff, to start the game.
"We didn't take it negatively. We just came out today and we knew those guys (second string) could perform just as well as us," Huff said.
It worked, to a point.
The more talented Badgers wore down North Dakota on the offensive end. Dekker in transition went behind the back on the dribble, split two defenders and threw in a one-handed dunk for a 60-47 lead early in the second half.
North Dakota hung around, but by the latter part of the second half, the game was all about whether Kaminsky would make school history.
Bronson Koenig scored seven points and tallied two assists.
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