6 in double figures as Wisconsin beats Prairie View 85-67
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Since arriving at Wisconsin, forward Nigel Hayes has worked to add a 3-point shot to his repertoire and improve his handle with the ball.
Now he can add point guard to his resume.
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan put the 6-foot-8 Hayes at the point in the second half to help break Prairie View A&M’s zone defense, and the Badgers (4-2) ran away from the Panthers late to win 85-67 on Wednesday night.
Hayes responded with seven assists, tying a career high he set last week, to go along with his 10 points, but he also committed four turnovers. Ryan questioned a couple of the decisions Hayes made, but said the move freed up Bronson Koenig, who led the Badgers with 16 points, and Zak Showalter, who added 14.
“If you can handle the ball and you can make good decisions, it really doesn’t matter with the three guys on the perimeter that we have so we just gave their zone some different looks, moved some people around,” Ryan said
Showalter said Prairie View A&M (0-5) started focusing on him and Koenig after they hit some early shots, and Ryan’s adjustment with Hayes at the point helped counter the move.
“They were denying the wings so Nigel could just dribble right up the middle basically, so that’s what we went with, and it worked toward the end,” Showalter said.
Ethan Happ and Charlie Thomas added 12 point apiece for the Badgers, while Vitto Brown scored 11.
Prairie View A&M was able to hang with the Badgers early despite 14 first-half turnovers thanks to a strong showing from the 3-point line, where they were 7 of 9. But the Panthers, who were 14 of 62 from the 3-point line on the season going into Wednesday’s game, missed both 3s they took in the second half.
After trailing by six at the break, they were able to pull within 44-42 on Tevin Bellinger’s layup. But Wisconsin reeled off a 17-4 run over the next seven minutes to take control.
Coach Byron Rimm II said the Panthers were trying to work the ball inside more in the second half, but started taking poor shots. After shooting 59 percent in the first half, the Panthers cooled to 42 percent in the second period.
Rimm also said he wanted Hayes to shoot, and they were able to hold him to 3 of 11 from the field. But the switch to the point allowed Hayes to back down his defender and start working the ball to others, which undercut the zone as the Panthers were slow to double down on him.
Bellinger led Prairie View A&M with 21 points.
“They moved Nigel to the point, and that was a big mismatch either way down on the floor,” he said.
Prairie View A&M: The Panthers have had a daunting start to the season, and it’s not going to get much easier. They’ve lost their first five games by an average of 21 points and now have four straight road games coming up against UNLV, Baylor, TCU and Tulane.
Wisconsin: Ethan Happ became the first Wisconsin freshman since 2002 to register back-to-back double-doubles during the Badgers’ trip to New York over the weekend for the 2K Classic. But he came up two rebounds short of hitting that mark for a third straight time. The last Wisconsin freshman to record three straight double-doubles was Rashard Griffith in the fall of 1993. . Wisconsin has led the Big Ten in defense in nine of the past 13 seasons, giving up less than 60 points a game in all but three years of that span. But the Badgers have yet to hold an opponent under 60 points this season. The closest they came was a 78-64 win over North Dakota Nov. 17.
Prairie View A&M plays at UNLV on Saturday.
Wisconsin plays at Oklahoma on Sunday.