Another day, another impressive performance by senior forward Frank Kaminsky and another victory for the No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers, who have now won a season-high 10 games in a row.
Kaminsky recorded 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting, five rebounds, three assists and three blocks to lead the way for the Badgers (25-2 overall, 13-1 Big Ten) to a 63-53 victory over rival Minnesota (16-12, 5-10) Saturday at the Kohl Center.
Kaminsky has now scored at least 20 points in 7 of his last 11 games and a total of 10 times this season.
“[Kaminsky] is one of the best players in the country,” Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino said. “The guy’s a pro. He’s a lottery pick. It’s very hard to guard lottery picks.”
Sophomore guard Bronson Koenig also scored a career-high 17 points, including a 3-of-6 shooting clip from 3-point range. Sophomore forward Nigel Hayes added nine points and Josh Gasser chipped in seven of his own on what turned out to be a historic day for the redshirt senior guard.
Late in the first half, Gasser scored the 1,000th point of his collegiate career, joining Michael Finley as the only Badgers to register 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 250 assists in their careers.
“I don’t know if [Gasser] is going to make $100 million or whatever Michael Finley ended up making, but he’s the only guy that’s done what he’s done other than Michael Finley,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “That’s pretty good. Especially for a guy that got a scholarship because somebody else (former Marquette player Vander Blue) changed their mind.”
In addition, Gasser surpassed Alando Tucker for the most career minutes played (4,303) in program history.
Gasser, a Port Washington, Wis. native, received a thunderous ovation from the Kohl Center crowd when he reached the 1,000-point milestone.
“It makes you feel good. We have such a great fan base here,” Gasser said of the ovation. “I love playing here. I love playing for these fans. It makes you want to work hard and play well for them.”
For Minnesota, a trio of players (Nate Mason, DeAndre Mathieu and Carlos Morris) led the way with 11 points apiece. Senior guard Andre Hollins, the Gophers’ leading scorer this season, struggled to get anything going on offense and scored just two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
The Gophers were able to stay close for much of the first half and trailed by eight at the half.
However, Minnesota turned the ball over on its first three possessions of the second half and started the half just 3-of-11 from the field, allowing the Badgers to eventually build a 16-point lead.
The Gophers, who have now dropped three in a row, were able to cut the deficit back down to eight at one point, but never really got within striking distance of UW.
Wisconsin once again didn’t get much offensive production from its bench, as its starters scored 59 of the team’s 63 points and played 183 of the game’s 200 minutes.
The Badgers will probably need more production and playing time out of their reserves to avoid the starters from becoming fatigued as the team enters the final stages of the season.
Wisconsin will next play Tuesday night when it travels to College Park to take on No. 16 Maryland, the start of a tough four-game stretch to end the regular season that will see the Badgers play three games on the road.
“If you look at the schedules, who has the toughest close? It’s us. Our guys know that and roll up their sleeves,” Ryan said. “These will be great tests.”