Men's Hoops Falls at No. 14 Wisconsin
Dec. 27, 2016
MADISON, Wis. - After trailing by as much as 21 points in the second half, Rutgers (11-3, 0-1) fought back to within nine with possession, but would get no closer in a 72-52 loss to No. 14/14 Wisconsin (12-2, 1-0) in front of 17,287 fans at the Kohl Center. Junior guard Mike Williams led the Scarlet Knights with 18 points, while Nigel Johnson chipped in with 11 after the break.
"It was obviously a tough opener for us playing a great Wisconsin team," said Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell. "Greg (Gard) does a great job. They are well coached and have good players. On our end, we certainly have to play a lot better. We got off to a bad start, turned the ball over. We were helping them and they didn't need any help."
Wisconsin was led by 20 points from Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year Nigel Hayes. Zak Showalter added 18 points and Ethan Happ had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The visitors got off to a slow start, with Wisconsin jumping out to a 19-6 lead as Rutgers started 2-of-16 from the field. The Scarlet Knights then utilized a 10-3 run, keyed by back-to-back three-pointers from Williams, to cut the deficit to six at 22-16.
From there, the Badgers finished the half on an 11-2 run to take a 33-18 lead into the halftime locker room. Williams led RU in the opening stanza with eight points.
Both teams shot better to open the second half. Wisconsin extended its lead to 47-26, but Rutgers struck back with Williams and Johnson tweaking the twine multiple times from long range. The Scarlet Knights used an 18-6 run to reduce the deficit to single digits at 53-44.
The home team responded with a run of their own, going on a 15-2 stretch to extend its advantage. The Badgers held on from there, prevailing for the 15th straight time at home.
Next up for the Scarlet Knights is a home date on New Year's Day with Penn State at the RAC. The contest tips-off at 2:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
Mike Williams made his first start of the season and had 18 points and seven rebounds. It was Williams' ninth time in 14 games scoring in double figures.
Williams led the team in rebounding for the second time this season (fourth career).
Williams has averaged 19.0 points in two trips to the Kohl Center (team-high 20 points last season).
Nigel Johnson scored all 11 of his points in the second half. It was Johnson's 11th time in 14 games scoring in double digits.
The Badgers now hold a 5-1 advantage in the all-time series