first_imgFor just the second time in the history of the Kohl Center, a Final Four banner was raised into the rafters.Before the third-ranked Wisconsin men’s basketball team took to the floor for their regular-season opener against Northern Kentucky Friday night, the 2014 Final Four banner was raised into the rafters and last year’s team was given their Final Four rings in a pregame ceremony.“The hype is good, the people are talking about us, it’s cool, it’s fun but at some point you have to turn the page from last year,” junior forward Sam Dekker said of the ceremony. “I think after that, everyone came back down to earth and it’s always good to get back on the court against a different opponent in a game that matters now standings-wise.”Once they came back down to earth after the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony, No. 3 Wisconsin (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) showed the 17,279 in attendance at the Kohl Center why they’re a top-five team, disposing of Northern Kentucky 62-31 Friday night.Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky started the 2014-15 season right where he left off last season, chipping in his first double-double of the year with a game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds. Dekker added 15 points for UW while sophomore forward Nigel Hayes hauled in 10 rebounds of his own.The UW defense was in mid-season form Friday night, holding Northern Kentucky to only 26.4 percent shooting (14-for-53) from the floor and 12.5 percent shooting (2-for-16) from beyond the arc. No player from NKU scored in double figures with Daniel Camps leading the way for the Norse with eight points. The Badgers dominated the glass as well Friday night, outrebounding NKU 42-28.“I think we did really well defensively tonight,” Kaminsky said. “Holding an opponent to 31 points is pretty good. We had a little slip-up at the end; we wanted to hold it to under 30 but it’s a good start and hopefully we can build on it.”Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan was well prepared for the Norse offensive attack Friday night, recognizing their quickness and their ability to attack the basket. Shutting down Northern Kentucky’s dribble-drive was key to the Badgers equaling the fewest points they have given up while under the direction of Ryan.“We know the strength that [Northern Kentucky] brought in here with their quickness off the dribble-drives and their throw backs and things like that; they’re pretty effective with that,” Ryan said. “So I thought that defensively Vitto [Brown] and Nigel [Hayes] and the other guys…they did a good job of moving their feet and shutting off the driving lanes.”Both teams came out slow the first five minutes of the game before the Badgers went on an 18-4 run to take an 18-8 lead over Northern Kentucky with 9:05 left in the first half. UW would take a 27-15 lead at halftime, holding NKU to 28 percent shooting (7-for-25) in the half. Kaminsky led all scorers with 10 points while he and Hayes each added seven rebounds for the Badgers. Wisconsin also had assists on eight of their 11 field goals with Kaminsky leading the way with three.In the second half the Badgers started on an 18-6 run with senior guard Traevon Jackson scoring seven of his nine points during the run while Dekker added five points of his own. At this point the Badgers had opened up a 46-21 lead over NKU and were well on their way to their 17th-straight home-opening win.Returning four of their five starters from last season, the cohesiveness of the Badgers was on display Friday night as well. UW finished the game with 13 assists on 23 field goals with Kaminsky leading the way with four.“Returning so many people from last year’s team we have an understanding on how to play with each other already…building on last year,” Kaminsky said. “Everyone knows everyone’s strengths so we just try to play to that.”Following the win, the Badgers will have a short turnaround as they take on Chattanooga Sunday at the Kohl Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.last_img

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