It was Traevon Jackson’s game to lose Tuesday night in Madison. Even after struggling to get the ball through Florida’s press defense midway through the second half, coach Bo Ryan was determined to stand by his teams best ball handler.
Turning the ball over three times in the second half didn’t phase Jackson, and instead the Wisconsin point guard turned the tables and made it his game to win.
The lefty pulled-up for a mid-range jump shot near the right elbow and buried it with under 10-seconds remaining – pushing Wisconsin (2-0) to a 59-53 non-conference win at the Kohl Center in front of a capacity crowd.
The Badgers shot 43.8% from the field, but struggled mid-way through the second half as they went on a scoring drought, allowing Florida back in the game.
With 11:57 to go in the second half, Duje Dukan drilled a three from the top of the key to make it 47-36 Badgers. A jumper from Jackson with just under 8-minutes remaining was all Bucky would muster until a couple of free throws and a huge Frank Kaminksy three with 4:01 left in the game which made it 54-48 and pushed it back to a two-possession game.
Will Yuegete drained a jump shot with 2:58 left to cut the lead to four, but Sam Dekker went 2-for-4 from the line and Jackson dropped his late jumper to prevail.
Wisconsin out-rebounded Florida (1-1) who was without sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith (by way of Virginia Tech) and junior center/forward Damontre Harris (from South Carolina), who were suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Those two, both of whom figure prominently in the 2013-14 plans for coach Billy Donovan, will join senior guard Scottie Wilbekin who was suspended in June.
Wisconsin turned the ball over 14 times, nine of which came in the second half. They were 8-14 from the free throw line and drilled 9-20 from behind the arc.
Dekker led the Badgers with 16 points followed by 13 for Jackson and 11 for Ben Brust. Pacing Florida was Michael Frazier who led all scorers with 20 points – 12 of which came from long range.
The team returns to play Saturday when they travel to the Resch Center in Green Bay and battle in-State rival, UW-GB Phoenix.