Hayes leads No. 17 Badgers to 90-70 win over Oklahoma
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin coach Greg Gard says what makes Nigel Hayes and the Badgers play at their best is one in the same - how far the 6-foot-8 forward is from the basket.
And with Hayes working largely from 18 feet and in, he scored a season-high 28 points Saturday as No. 17 Wisconsin shook off a slow start and blew past Oklahoma 90-70.
"The further he gets from the basket, the more the hard match-up scenarios level off or dissipate," Gard said.
Gard said what impressed him most about Hayes was he shot 13 free throws, hitting 10, and didn't turn the ball over once while dishing out six assists. Most of those assists were at the rim as the defense collapsed, opening up outside shots.
Hayes said he's just taking what the defense gives him.
"It's just a matter of me staying consistent, staying confident in myself with the work I put in, whether it's inside or outside, just going with that mindset that no one can guard me," said Hayes, who took only two 3-point attempts and made both.
The Badgers (7-2) trailed Oklahoma (5-2) the entire first half as they struggled to guard dribble handoffs that gave the Sooners momentum while attacking the rim. But once the Badgers cleaned that up and found their shooting touch, they pulled away.
Wisconsin was 4 of 13 from behind the arc in the first half, and Rashard Odomes put Oklahoma up 58-57 with a 12-footer 8 minutes into the second half. But Bronson Koenig of the Badgers answered with a 3 that started a 20-3 run to put the game away.
The Badgers connected on 8 of 14 3-point attempts in the second half, including three in their decisive run.
Koenig, Ethan Happ and D'Mitrik Trice all scored 16 points for Wisconsin.
Oklahoma committed 16 turnovers, eight in each half. But the Sooners were able to overcome that in the first half by hitting 5 of 8 from behind the 3-point line. Those shots stopped falling in the second half as they went 1 of 6, and coach Lon Kruger said the Sooners didn't find a way to answer as Wisconsin's confidence shot up in their final run.
Odomes led Oklahoma with 17 points.
"Some of it was certainly our doing. Some of it was Wisconsin making a good play," Kruger said of the 20-3 run. "Those opportunities are what we have to learn from and certainly do a better job."