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Hayes scores 24 as No. 14 Wisconsin blows out Green Bay

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said it was a simple formula against Green Bay on Wednesday night.

When the Badgers were dribbling east-west and not sharing the ball, things bogged down. When they moved the ball, cut and screened for each other, things clicked.

Shaking off some early sluggishness, Wisconsin beat Green Bay 73-59 as Nigel Hayes scored 24 points.

The Wisconsin offense was at its best when the Badgers (10-2) were sharing the ball, and they had 18 assists on 27 field goals.

“You’re a lot harder to guard when the ball moves like that,” Gard said.

While Hayes’ offensive output wasn’t much of a surprise, Zak Showalter’s was. The senior guard is averaging less than 7 points a game and came in shooting less than 29 percent from behind the 3-point line.

But he connected on a career-high four 3-pointers as he scored 16 points, while Ethan Happ added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Showalter credited Happ for some of his success, saying the Phoenix (4-6) were doubling down on him in the post. Happ made them pay with six assists.

“It’s just good to see the ball go through, and it really felt good tonight,” he said.

Green Bay coach Linc Darner said Showalter’s shooting wrecked his game plan, which included sagging off Showalter when he was on the perimeter.

“It was almost like he knew we weren’t going to come out and guard him and he caught them in rhythm,” Darner said.

Kerem Kanter led Green Bay with 18 points.

BIG PICTURE

Green Bay: The Phoenix are 1-22 vs. Wisconsin and 0-19 in Madison. Their only win in the series was in 2009. Green Bay was competitive at times Wednesday night, but couldn’t sustain it.

Wisconsin: The Badgers did exactly what they were expected to playing at home against an in-state rival it has regularly handled with ease. They now get a break to take care of finals before one last tune up ahead of Big Ten play starting Dec. 27.

KEY RUNS

The Badgers were a little lethargic to start and trailed Green Bay 12-11 almost 9 minutes into the game. But they reeled off a 20-4 run that included a nearly 5-minute scoreless drought for the Phoenix. Green Bay cut the lead to seven early in the second half. But Wisconsin responded with a 25-8 run that blew the game open.

ONE YEAR ON THE JOB

Wednesday’s game was an anniversary of sorts for Gard. Then-coach Bo Ryan abruptly resigned almost a year ago after a win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and Gard was immediately installed at the interim coach. His first game at the helm was one week later, an 84-79 win over Green Bay. Gard joked the only thing that’s changed since then is his hairline. “The basketball and the relations with the players remains the same, and it’s strong,” he said.

HAPP CONNECTS

At 6-foot-10, Happ knows his game is largely in the post, and he hasn’t even attempted a 3-pointer in his two seasons. But the crowd erupted when he pulled up just inside the top of the key and drained one. Happ, who has been working to add an outside shot to his game, noted one difference between making one near the top of the key and scoring under the basket. “It was nice to not have to run the length of the floor for once” to get back on defense, he said.

HAYES CROSSES 1,500

Hayes became the ninth player in Wisconsin to score 1,500 points and has 1,510 for his career. According to Wisconsin, he’s the only active player in the country with 1,500 career points, 600 rebounds and 200 assists.

UP NEXT

Green Bay: The Phoenix return home Saturday for the first time in three weeks to host Belmont.

Wisconsin: The Badgers host Florida A&M on Dec. 23.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.

VIDEO: Toledo’s Sanford caps scramble with game-winning three

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While many were occupied with the various NFL games, Toledo and Green Bay were locked up in a tight contest that was decided by a freshman who had yet to hit a shot.

After a missed layup and scramble for the loose ball Toledo freshman Jaelan Sanford, who had missed both of his shot attempts from the field, wound up with the ball as the final seconds ran off the clock. No problem for Sanford, who released a three-pointer from the left wing that went down as time expired. Final score: Toledo 71, Green Bay 69.

Even though the game-winner was Sanford’s first made shot of the game he’s a more than capable scorer, as he left Reitz HS in Evansville, Indiana as the school’s all-time leading scorer (1,544 points).

His shot against the Phoenix put the finishing touches on a Toledo comeback from a six-point deficit in the final two minutes and thirty seconds, with Nathan Boothe (27 points, nine rebounds and three blocks) and Jonathan Williams (26 points) leading the way offensively for Tod Kowalcyzk’s team.

Video credit: Jordan Strack/WTOL-11

Green Bay lands transfer forward from Pepperdine

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Green Bay landed a former in-state forward as Pepperdine rising junior David Jesperson transferred to the Phoenix, according to Mark Miller of the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook.

The 6-foot-8 Jesperson is from Merrill, Wisconsin and averaged 11.1 minutes per game as a sophomore. Putting up 1.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game, Jesperson shot 52 percent from the field last season, but wasn’t regularly productive in his minutes.

By playing closer to home in the Horizon League, Jesperson gets to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules and he’ll have two more years of eligibility after that. The younger brother of Northern Iowa forward Paul Jesperson, David can stretch the floor a little bit at his size and could be a useful role player in that capacity for Green Bay.

Pregame Shootaround: Horizon League heavyweights meet in Green Bay

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Cleveland State at Green Bay, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

There are just seven games on the schedule tonight, and there’s no doubt that the battle between the Vikings and Phoenix is the best matchup. Both enter the game with 10-3 records in Horizon League play, and the winner will keep alive hopes of catching 11-2 Valparaiso. That can be important, as the regular season champion gets to host the second round and semifinals with the highest remaining seed hosting the title game. Cleveland State won the first meeting January 31, holding serve at home thanks to the tandem of guard Trey Lewis and forward Anton Grady.

Lewis accounted for 25 points and 12 rebounds on that night, with Grady adding 24 points and six rebounds. Slowing those two down will be critical for Green Bay, as their production was a big reason why Cleveland State shot 56.8% from the field. Another key in that game: Gary Water’s Vikings outscored Green Bay 21-6 from the foul line. Keifer Sykes was limited to 11 points in that game, and he finished with more turnovers (two) than assists (one). That can’t be the case in the rematch.

THIS SHOULD ALSO BE GOOD: Cornell at Yale, 7:00 p.m.

Yale (7-1) is currently tied with Harvard atop the Ivy League standings, with the Crimson hosting Penn in Cambridge. Of the two opponents the first-place teams face Cornell’s the greater threat, thanks to the presence of senior forward Shonn Miller. Miller (16.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg) currently leads Cornell in both scoring and rebounding, and his matchup with Yale’s Justin Sears will be worth the price of admission. Yale was able to keep Miller in check in the first meeting, a seven-point Bulldog victory, as he scored 15 points on 6-for-20 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds.

TWO THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. Iona looks to move one step close to another MAAC regular season title, as they visit Marist (9:00 p.m., ESPNU). The Gaels have won eight straight games, thanks to a prolific offense and improved play on the defensive end.

2. Albany dropped its first conference game of the season on Monday, but thanks to Vermont’s stunning loss at Binghamton they still lead America East by two games. The Great Danes host Hartford (7:00 p.m., ESPNU), and a win would wrap up at least a share of the regular season title.

THE REST OF FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE

  • Princeton at Dartmouth, 7:00 p.m.
  • Penn at Harvard, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Columbia at Brown, 8:00 p.m.

Pregame Shootaround: Underrated rivalry, Horizon League showdown highlights Friday slate

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Green Bay at Valparaiso, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Phoenix and Crusaders meet for the second time this season, with Green Bay having held serve at home January 23 by the final score of 51-50. A key for Brian Wardle’s team on that night was their defending of Valparaiso sophomore forward Alec Peters, who finished with nine points on 4-for-11 shooting. Keeping Peters in check will once again be key for Green Bay, but in that second meeting they defended everyone well in the second half as Valparaiso shot 5-for-27 from the field. Valparaiso will need to slow down Green Bay senior guard Keifer Sykes, which they were able do in the first meeting (11 points, 4-for-17 FG). A key back in January: Green Bay shot nearly 49 percent inside of the arc, with Valparaiso making 37.5% of its two-point attempts.

DON’T MISS THIS ONE EITHER: Iona at Manhattan, 10:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

Not sure this rivalry gets the attention it deserves nationally, with the two schools separated by just over nine miles, and the game rarely (if ever) lacks for entertainment. That should once again be the case tonight, with the first-place Gaels visiting the team that beat them in last year’s MAAC tournament final. While Iona’s reputation is that of a free-wheeling offensive team led by A.J. English, David Laury III and Shadrac Casimir, they enter tonight’s game with better numbers in both field goal and three-point percentage defense than Steve Masiello’s Jaspers. Veterans Emmy Andujar and Rashawn Stores are among the leaders for Manhattan, which will also look to push the pace. This is a late tip time (NBA All-Star Weekend likely has something to do with that), but it’s a game true hoops fans won’t want to miss.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. No. 7 Arizona looks to rebound from its loss at Arizona State last weekend, as they take on Washington in Seattle (9:00 p.m., ESPN). With the struggling Huskies lacking depth inside, it would be nice for Arizona’s sake if junior center Kaleb Tarczewski could get going. He’s struggled recently, and Arizona needs him to be effective if they’re to play deep into March/early April.

2. Two of the best teams in the MAC meet, as Kent State visits Toledo (6:00 p.m., ESPNU). After starting conference play 6-1 the Golden Flashes have lost three of their last four, with the injured Jimmy Hall missing the last three. If the Golden Flashes are to win they’ll need to slow down one of the best offenses in the MAC, with guard Juice Brown leading the way for a Toledo squad that has four double-digit scorers.

3. Albany, which is 12-0 in America East play, hits the road for a non-conference affair as they visit NJIT. Jim Engles’ Highlanders, the lone independent in Division I college basketball, are looking to add another win to what it hopes is a resume worthy of inclusion in a postseason tournament (CBI or CIT possibly).

4. Both Harvard and Yale enter tonight’s action 5-1 in Ivy League play. The Crimson host Columbia while Yale visits Penn at The Palestra. A game behind them in the loss column is 3-2 Princeton, which hosts Brown tonight and Yale tomorrow.

5. Washington State hosts Arizona State (10:00 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) in a game that will impact seeding for next month’s Pac-12 tournament. And it’s also an opportunity to watch the conference’s most improved player in Washington State sophomore forward Josh Hawkinson.

Pregame Shootaround: Horizon League showdown, No. 16 VCU headline Friday slate

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Valparaiso at Green Bay, 9:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

Depending upon what happens in Cleveland State’s home game against Detroit, this could be for sole possession of first place in the Horizon League. Like the Vikings, both the Crusaders and Phoenix enter Friday with 5-1 league records, and two of the best players in the Horizon League will be on display at the Resch Center. Of course the name Keifer Sykes (Green Bay’s electric point guard) is known by now, but how about Valpo’s Alec Peters? The 6-foot-9 sophomore can score both inside and out and is averaging 17.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game for Valparaiso, which is off to an 18-3 start and has won five straight games. Green Bay’s limiting opponents to 58.8 points per game, and they’ll need a similar defensive effort to keep Bryce Drew’s team in check.

THE REST OF FIRDAY’S SCHEDULE 

  • No. 16 VCU is back in action, and they’ll put their 5-0 Atlantic 10 record on the line at Saint Louis (7:00 p.m., ESPN2). Shaka Smart’s Rams have won ten straight games, with their last defeat coming at the hands of the nation’s second-best team in Virginia. Obviously turnovers, especially those of the live-ball variety, are key in games involving VCU as they’re forcing nearly 18 per game. But another area to keep an eye on is the fact that Jim Crews’ Billikens are allowing opponents to shoot nearly 46 percent from the field. If SLU isn’t better in that area, things could open up for the Rams, who have shot no better than 42.5% in five of their last six games.
  • Cleveland State hosts Detroit (7:00 p.m., ESPN3) in the other Horizon League matchup Friday night, with the Vikings having three players averaging double figures led by junior guard Trey Lewis. Detroit will counter with senior Juwan Howard Jr., who averaging 18.5 points per game for the Titans.
  • The most important of the three MAAC games on Friday’s schedule is Manhattan’s trip to Hamden, Connecticut to take on Quinnipiac (7:00 p.m., ESPNU), with the Jaspers just one game behind first-place Iona in the loss column. Keep an eye on the rebounding here, as the Jaspers are allowing opponents to rebound just over 34 percent of their misses and Quinnipiac is a very good offensive rebounding team led by seniors Ousmane Drame and Justin Harris.
  • Monmouth can move into a tie for first in the MAAC with a win over a Niagara (7:00 p.m, ESPN3) team that nearly beat Iona last Friday night. King Rice’s Hawks are limiting opponents to 39.2% shooting from the field, and guards Justin Robinson and Deon Jones combining to average just over 34 points per game.
  • Rivals Marist and Siena meet in Albany (7:00 p.m., ESPN3), with the Red Foxes still in search of their first conference win under new head coach Mike Maker. Siena’s had some issues defensively this season, but the sight of a team that’s averaging 58.2 points per game should help Jimmy Patsos’ team.