MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Bronson Koenig scored a season-high 16 points, Sam Dekker also had 16 and No. 5 Wisconsin won its sixth straight by beating Northwestern 65-50 on Saturday.
Nigel Hayes added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Badgers (21-2, 9-1 Big Ten), who are off to their best start since going 21-1 in 2006-7.
Wisconsin overpowered the Wildcats (10-13, 1-9) with its athleticism to open a big early lead.
Dekker started the scoring for Wisconsin with a 3 before later darting through the interior of the 2-3 zone for a dunk. The agile 6-foot-7 forward also converted an alley-oop from Josh Gasser for another slam during a game-opening 21-4 run.
Alex Olah had 15 points for Northwestern. The Big Ten’s last-place team extended its losing streak to nine.
The Wildcats did narrow a 21-point deficit against the conference leaders to 11 with 1 minute left on a 3-pointer by Tre Demps.
Otherwise, it was another trying afternoon for coach Chris Collins.
When he wasn’t pleading for calls from officials in the first half, Collins could often be found on the sideline with arms crossed across his chest and a frustrated look on his face.
Northwestern opened the game shooting 2 of 12 while falling behind by 17. They were outrebounded 24-12 in the first half and 39-25 on the afternoon.
Leading by 16 at the break, the Badgers’ biggest challenge in the second half was making sure that they kept their concentration while playing with a big lead. In Wisconsin’s previous game, Indiana cut a 30-point deficit in half in the second half.
While forwards Dekker and Hayes controlled the opening 20 minutes on Saturday, point guard Koenig paced the Badgers out of the locker room at halftime with two 3s and a tough, leaning layup with the shot clock winding down that maintained a 21-point lead with about 12 minutes left in the game.
Northwestern: 6-foot-5 guard JerShon Cobb picked up two fouls at 9:40 of the first half — before and after a stoppage of play — while trying to guard the 6-foot-8 Hayes in the post. Cobb picked up a third foul 2 minutes later and went scoreless for the game. … The Wildcats’ only Big Ten win came in their conference opener, a 51-47 victory at Rutgers on Dec. 30.
Wisconsin: The Badgers’ 9-1 start in the Big Ten matched its best in conference play since 1914. … Gasser had a season-high nine rebounds in his school-record 127th career start.
Northwestern: hosts Michigan State on Tuesday.
Wisconsin: at Nebraska on Tuesday.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.