Despite a 25-point performance from Traevon Jackson, the Wisconsin basketball team came up short against Duke at the Kohl Center Wednesday night, falling 80-70 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers (7-1) shot just 40.7 percent as a team and couldn’t keep up with the red hot No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (8-0), who shot 65.2 percent from the field.
Jackson’s 25 points led all scorers, but he didn’t get much help from the rest of his team. Frank Kaminsky added 17 points and nine rebounds, but no other Badger reached double figures. Josh Gasser, Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker – the rest of Wisconsin’s starters – combined for just 16 points, and Duje Dukan, Vitto Brown and Bronson Koenig added just 12 more to round out the Wisconsin scoring.
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While the match-up between Kaminsky and Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor was the pre-game focus, another Duke freshman stole the show. Tyus Jones scored at will on his way to a 22-point performance to lead the Blue Devils. Okafor and Quinn Cook added 13 points each and Rasheed Sulaimon scored 14 off of the bench.
Wisconsin was out of sorts on defense for much of the night and had no answer for Jones. Duke’s hot shooting didn’t help, and Wisconsin players not named Jackson couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch as the Badgers dropped their first game of the season.
The Big Ten had already secured the ACC/Big Ten Challenge victory with eight wins after Iowa held off North Carolina prior to the start of thew Wisconsin-Duke game. The Big Ten has now won every ACC/Big Ten Challenge since 2008.
A pair of Frank Kaminsky three pointers bettered two baskets from Jahlil Okafor in the first four minutes as Wisconsin led Duke 6-4 while both teams struggled to shoot early in the first half.
Quinn Cook nailed a three-pointer to give Duke a 7-6 lead, But Duje Dukan answered right back with a trey of his own. Moments later Tyus Jones tied the game at 9-9, but Bronson Koenig hit Wisconsin’s fourth three-pointer of the game to put the Badgers back up three, 12-9. The back-and-forth play continued as Rasheed Sulaimon added another three, tying the game as the teams headed to the under-12 break in the first half.
Coming out of the break, Duke took advantage of a couple of Dukan turnovers to jump out to an 18-14 lead, but Traevon Jackson added a scoop layup for Wisconsin’s first two-point bucket of the game to narrow the score to 18-16. Sulaimon put Duke back up by four with a drive moments later.
On Wisconsin’s next possession, Okafor ran over Nigel Hayes on a screen, picking up his second foul of the game. He went to the Duke bench with more than eight minutes left in the game. Hayes soon followed for Wisconsin after picking up his second foul, as well.
The teams traded baskets before Jackson found Sam Dekker on a backdoor cut for a jam that closed the gap to two points at 22-20.
Trailing 26-20, Vitto Brown, on in relief of Kaminsky, knocked down a jumper to make it a four point game. The Badgers forced a turnover, and Dukan grabbed an offensive board after a Jackson three-point miss and layed it in for two. Josh Gasser later found found Brown for a wide open layup, tying the game at 26-all.
Duke hit three treys around buckets from Jackson and Kaminsky before Dekker scored to bring it within three at 35-32, a score that held until the half.
Kaminsky scored first to open the second half to bring Wisconsin within a point, but Jackson fouled Jones on a three-point attempt on Duke’s next possession, and Jones hit all three freebies to put the Blue Devils back up four.
Dekker answered with a three pointer before Okafor scored in the post, but Gasser tied things up at 40-40 with another three moments later.
After a Duke bucket, Hayes added an and-one to give Wisconsin its first lead since early in the game at 43-42. Jones was fouled on Duke’s next possession, and hit 1-of-2 free throws to tie it at 43-43. A Sulaimon three and a Jones bucket pushed Duke’s lead to 48-43, forcing Bo Ryan to call a timeout with about 14 minutes remaining.
Wisconsin was still unable to slow Duke down as the Blue Devils went on a 10-6 run to open up a 58-49 lead with 8:50 left in the game.
A pair of Jackson free throws snapped a 7-0 Duke run, and following an emphatic Okafor dunk, Jackson hit a three to narrow the score to 60-54.
Trailing 63-55 with just under six minutes to play, Jackson drained another three to pull Wisconsin within five points. The Badgers forced a turnover following a Duke timeout, and Jackson drove to the hoop on the ensuing possession, drawing the fourth foul of the game on Okafor. Jackson hit both free throws to narrow the score to 63-60 as Okafor took a seat.
Wisconsin failed to score despite good looks on three straight possessions and Duke capitalized, jumping out to a 69-60 lead. Gasser drew a loose-ball foul on Wisconsin’s next possession, and hit a pair of freebies to make it a seven-point game, but Jones answered with a step-back jumper to keep the lead at nine points.
Jackson answered with yet another three, and with 1:50 to play, Wisconsin trailed 71-63. Wisconsin pulled within 75-69 with about 40 seconds remaining, but both teams traded free throws to close out the game as Duke secured the 80-70 win.
The Badgers head to Milwaukee to take on Marquette this Saturday.