The 14th ranked Wisconsin Badgers captured their Big Ten Conference opener for the 13th time in the last 14 years, knocking off Rutgers 72-52 at the Kohl Center.
Nigel Hayes scored 20 points, including 10 for 10 from the free throw line and Zak Showalter added 18 points to lead the Badgers (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten).
Wisconsin led 33-18 at halftime and went up by 21 midway through the second half before Rutgers put together a rally. But the Badgers pulled away down the stretch, running their win streak to eight games.
Showalter went six-for-10 from the field and Hayes was five for nine.
Mike Williams had 18 points and Nigel Johnson had 11 for Rutgers (11-3, 0-1). The Scarlet Knights shot just 31% from the field (19-for-62).
The Badgers get a week off before road games next week against number-16 Indiana on Jan. 3 and number-15 Purdue on Jan. 8.
AUDIO: Zak Showalter on why he’s scoring more :11
AUDIO: Greg Gard on Zak Showalter’s offensive game :15