The Wisconsin Badgers jumped out to a 21-point halftime lead and extended that lead to 30 early in the second half. They then held on to pull out a 84-79 win over the Green Bay Phoenix at the Kohl Center, giving Greg Gard a win in his interim head coaching debut.
The Badgers almost blew a big lead and turned the ball over a season-high 26 times in their final non-conference tune-up before the start of Big Ten play.
Gard said he wasn’t proud of his teams sloppy play in the second half, but he was thrilled with the transition his players made after Bo Ryan stepped down last week.
The Badgers had 16 second half turnovers, after entering the game averaging just 10.8.
Greg Gard made a point to start to develop a deeper bench rotation. The Badger bench entered the game averaging 9.5 points a game. Last night, they scored 20 points.
Backup point guard Jordan Hill entered the night with no points, no assists and one rebound in 27 combined minutes this season. Last night he scored eight points and added three rebounds and two assists.
Nigel Hayes scored 24 points to lead the Badgers, breaking the 1,000-point mark in his career in Madison.
Ethan Happ added 16 points and eight rebounds. Vitto Brown added 15 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
After trailing by 30, Green Bay went on a 33-6 run before the Badgers hit eight of nine free throws to hold off the second half charge. Carrington Love led all scorers with 28 points. He added four steals as the Phoenix fell to 1-21 all-time against the Badgers.