Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
By GENARO C. ARMISMADISON, Wis. (AP) — Nigel Hayes nearly notched a triple-double, Ethan Happ had 24 points and 13 rebounds and zone-busting guard Bronson Koenig scored 20 points as No. 17 Wisconsin beat No. 22 Syracuse 77-60 on Tuesday night.
Playing mainly out of the high post, the 6-foot-8 Hayes played perhaps the finest game of his career, finishing with 11 rebounds, 10 assists and 9 points, missing a free throw late that would’ve given him the triple-double.
Koenig, the seasoned senior guard, was 6 of 9 from 3-point range, and the Badgers (6-2) shot 48 percent overall (11 of 23) from behind the arc against the Orange’s 2-3 zone.
Wisconsin led by as much as 17 in the second half before Syracuse (4-2) went on a 6-0 run capped by John Gillon’s layup with 11:25 left. Two Wisconsin turnovers in that span with Koenig on the bench gave Syracuse the opening.
Coach Greg Gard inserted Koenig back in the game and the Badgers went on a 7-2 run to retake a 16-point lead with 9:24 left.
Andrew White III led Syracuse with 14 points, but went scoreless in the second half. DaJuan Coleman added 12 points.
With deft ball-handlers Happ and Hayes up front, Syracuse had a tough time guarding the Badgers with the zone.
Hayes found open shooters working from the high post. Happ expertly maneuvered around defenders in the low post for trademark baseline layups. Koenig softened up the zone from the perimeter.
The Orange lost their second straight game after falling to South Carolina in New York on Saturday.
BIG PICTURESyracuse: White kept his team in the game early after the Orange trailed by 14 midway through the first half. The transfer from Nebraska has fit in nicely as a go-to scorer from the perimeter, and his 6-7 frame is well-suited for coach Jim Boeheim’s zone. White was 4 of 6 from 3-point range in the first half, and Syracuse was able to chip away with Hayes and Koenig on the bench with two fouls apiece to get within 43-39 at halftime.
Wisconsin: At full strength, the Badgers are a tough matchup for Syracuse. Gard preaches ball movement and the importance of making the extra pass, both keys to playing the zone. Wisconsin’s senior-laden starting lineup also has the experience of facing different looks and pressure situations.
UP NEXTSyracuse: Returns to the Carrier Dome on Saturday to host North Florida following a two-game swing away from home.
Wisconsin: A tough early-season schedule continues when Oklahoma visits Madison on Saturday.
Photo: USA Today Sports
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.