Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Sports

No. 11 Florida loses 59-53 to No. 20 Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. — Florida didn't have quite enough to complete a comeback.

Coach Billy Donovan was proud of his team, anyway.

Sam Dekker scored 16, Traevon Jackson added 13 and No.  20 Wisconsin overcame a sloppy start Tuesday night to hold off No. 11 Florida in its home opener, 59-53.

The Gators turned up their backcourt pressure to narrow a 10-point deficit to 51-48 with two minutes left on two free throws by center Patric Young. Another free throw by Young cut it to 56-53 with 41.8 seconds left.

But Jackson hit a floater at the free-throw line over Jacob Kurtz with about 10 seconds left and Frank Kaminsky blocked a shot on the other to seal the win for Wisconsin (2-0).

"I was really proud of Patric and Casey Prather and Will Yeguete," Donovan said. "I thought those guys kept us together when we were starting to lose it a little bit."

Former Plant High and Montverde standout Michael Frazier II led Florida (1-1) with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

Dekker's 3-pointer with 11:06 left in the first half sparked a 22-10 run that gave Wisconsin control. He was Wisconsin's go-to guy for much of the game before Jackson's clutch basket late.

Ben Brust added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Badgers.

Prather had 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting for Florida but it was Frazier who gave the Badgers the most trouble.

They didn't have an answer for the sharpshooter in the opening eight minutes. Frazier was 5-of-8 in the first half, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, to help the Gators build a 16-7 lead with 11 minutes left in the half.

That was a huge boost for Florida, which started the season with eight scholarship players because of injuries and off-court issues.

Then things started swaying Wisconsin's way. Dekker was a big reason why after he shook off early tight defense by Prather.

It was only a matter of time for the multidimensional Dekker, who can beat defenders off the dribble and hit from long range.

Dekker followed his first 3 with another 3 in transition from the wing. Having created some space to maneuver, he went strong in the lane for his next two baskets.

Then shots started falling for the rest of the Badgers.

Jackson hit a 3 off of a pick to help give Wisconsin a 29-26 halftime lead. Nigel Hayes' putback at the shot clock buzzer with 13:36 left in the game gave Wisconsin a 10-point lead before Florida turned up the pressure.

"When you're on the road like this with new faces and some guys in different roles and some injuries, sometimes you dig yourself too much of a hole in the first half and you can't dig your way out of it," Donovan said.

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