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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, August 12, 2022

Men's Basketball: Badgers escape Green Bay with a win

Despite facing a threat more challenging than either of their previous “power six” conference opponents, the Badgers held strong in the final minute to pull out a 69-66 win against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Saturday.

The Badgers were tested all night by the Phoenix, who were named the preseason favorite to win the Horizon League and qualify for the NCAA tournament by Sports Illustrated.

Almost all troubles came from containing, or trying to contain, 5-foot-11-inch Green Bay guard Keifer Sykes, who finished with a career-high 32 points. No other Green Bay player finished with more than nine points.

The task to cover the swift-footed, preseason All-Horizon League guard fell on redshirt junior guard Josh Gasser.

“We were planning on going under on ball screens for him, make him shoot from the outside and he was knocking down shots from the beginning, so we had to kind of change our game plan,” Gasser said. “He’s just a great player. It’s hard to stop a guy like that, especially in that atmosphere and when he gets going early.”

Much of Green Bay’s strategy relied on multiple screens to give Sykes open looks, a tactic Wisconsin struggled to stop until it finally adjusted later in the game. After that, Sykes relied more on his inside game, utilizing drives to the rim and pull-up jumpers.

A back-and-forth first half that finished with a 34-29 Badgers lead, Green Bay burst out of the locker room with a 10-1 run to take a four-point lead.

Wisconsin spent 10 minutes slowly chipping away at this lead, eventually taking the final lead of the game on a layup from junior center Frank Kaminsky with 7:30 left in the game.

It was a career night for Kaminsky, who registered 16 points (14 in the second half), eight rebounds and four blocks while matched up against preseason All-Horizon League selection, 7-foot-1-inch center Alec Brown.

He had a overall miserable night, finishing with two points, one rebound and five turnovers.

“He’s one of the best players in that league and one of the best bigs that we’ll face, and we took him out of his rhythm the whole game,” Gasser said. “He had two offensive fouls in the first half and was pretty much nonexistent. Second half, same thing kind of happened.”

Brown fouled out with 4:24 remaining and Green Bay down by four, leaving a door open for the Badgers, Kaminsky in particular, to attack the rim with abandon.

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“Frank carried us in that second half,” freshman forward Nigel Hayes said. “With [Brown] out of the game, Frank was able to take advantage of the smaller defenders in the post.”

In the game’s final minute, Green Bay was able to cut the lead to two, but saw its penultimate possession end with an emphatic Kaminsky block. Kaminsky recovered the ball and was promptly fouled.

Kaminsky split his free throws, extending the lead to three with four seconds left.

After a Green Bay timeout, Sykes received a long pass from the baseline and bumped into his own man, throwing up a desperation shot that bounced off the front of the rim, cementing a surprisingly close Badger victory.

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