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Badgers hold off Purdue, win 8th in a row

The SportsXchange

MADISON, Wis. -- It didn't matter that Purdue held No. 9 Wisconsin's leading scorer, forward Sam Dekker, in check, and it didn't matter to Badgers coach Bo Ryan that Wednesday was Senior Night at the Kohl Center.

"To me, Senior Night's like any other night," Ryan said. "It's 40 minutes of basketball."

Wisconsin junior forward Frank Kaminsky owned the opening 30 minutes, and the Badgers held off Purdue's late push for a 76-70 win, their eighth consecutive victory.

The eight-game run is Wisconsin's longest streak since 1940-41, and it equals Michigan's previous streak as the longest in the Big Ten this season. The Badgers (25-5, 11-5 Big Ten) conclude the regular season at Nebraska on Sunday.

"The first thing they talk about is Dekker didn't have a good game, and, you know, who cares? Wisconsin won, right?" Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "Sometimes when you knock out someone's leading scorer you're going to win, and that's not the case with Wisconsin. (They) have so many guys that are capable of getting 20 points."

It was Kaminsky's turn Wednesday. The 7-foot junior hit eight of 11 shots, including four of five 3-point attempts, to lead all scorers with 22 points. Kaminsky added five rebounds, two blocks and two steals and led a Wisconsin offense that sank 44.2 percent of its shots (23-for-52).

Wisconsin junior guard Traveon Jackson also had an efficient day, hitting four of six shots, including two of three 3-pointers, to chip in 14 points. He helped make up for Dekker's tough shooting night (1-for-7, five points).

Kaminsky and Jackson combined to shoot 9-for-10 from the field in the first half to help the Badgers jump out to a 35-24 lead at the break. Kaminsky then hit three 3-pointers in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, his third supplying the Badgers with a 54-36 lead with 10:15 left.

"I get mad when he's not aggressive enough," Jackson said of Kaminsky. "I keep always telling him, 'Nobody can stop you when you put your mind to it. Just keep being aggressive.' When he does that, he's unstoppable."

A 13-2 run pulled the Boilermakers within 58-51 with 5:18 to go. Dekker answered with his only made field goal of the night for a three-point play, and Purdue didn't get closer than eight points down the rest of the way.

The Boilermakers (15-15, 5-12) suffered their fifth consecutive defeat.

Painter pointed to the defensive end as the key for the Boilermakers, especially for sophomore center A.J. Hammons, who had the task of guarding Kaminsky most of the night.

"Frank Kaminsky is really improved," Painter said. "He's a good player, and he causes a lot of matchup (problems). A.J.'s going to have to get better defensively in being able to guard people who can go out on the floor, put the ball on the floor, shoot 3s. If we're going to get better, it's not the only thing, obviously. Our improvement on the defensive end, you see it in spurts and then we take a couple steps backwards."

Jackson finished with 14 points and four assists, and Wisconsin junior guard Josh Gasser chipped in 13 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Sophomore guard Ronnie Johnson paced Purdue with 15 points, and senior guard Terone Johnson contributed 12. Hammons had 11 points and 11 boards.

The Badgers gained a huge advantage at the foul line, sinking 23 of 31 free throws compared to nine of 14 for the Boilermakers.

Wisconsin hit 48.3 percent of its shots in the first half, including four of seven 3-pointers, and they took a 35-24 lead after Hammons' tip-in at the halftime buzzer.

Brust added seven first-half points for Wisconsin, which held a 35-20 advantage at one point.

Purdue shot 38.7 percent before halftime, and the Boilermakers missed all six of their 3-pointers and missed their only free-throw attempt. Terone Johnson, Ronnie Johnson and Hammons each scored six first-half points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue's only lead of the game came after Terone Johnson's jumper put the Boilermakers up 2-0

Last season, Purdue spoiled Wisconsin's Senior Night with a 69-56 win at the Kohl Center on March 3. Wisconsin senior guard Ben Brust -- who was honored prior to tipoff Wednesday along with senior center Evan Anderson and senior forward Zach Bohannon -- said there was a much better feel after this one.

"It was nice to have everyone smiling in the locker room and smiling after the game," Brust said. "It was much better to get a win in your last time on your home floor. I've had some amazing experiences here at the Kohl Center, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do the rest of the way."

NOTES: Purdue has the second most consecutive losses in the conference (five). Northwestern enters its Thursday game against Penn State with six straight losses. ... Boilermakers coach Matt Painter announced Wednesday that redshirt freshman F Jay Simpson's career is over due to the heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Simpson averaged 4.3 points and 3.6 rebounds this season.

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