MADISON, Wisconsin — For nearly 10 minutes, Florida had a pretty good handle on Sam Dekker.
Casey Prather was among the Gators harassing Wisconsin's 6-foot-7 forward on the perimeter. Dekker had two turnovers early and the Badgers looked out of sorts.
Three-pointers by Dekker on consecutive possessions finally got the 20th-ranked Badgers going in their home opener, sparking a 22-10 run in the first half that helped hand No. 11 Florida a 59-53 loss Tuesday night.
"I think his offensive game has really blossomed over the last year," Gators coach Billy Donovan said of Dekker. "He's going to be in a situation right now where his game will really have a chance, I think, to grow and do a lot more things — inside, out, shooting 3s and putting it on the floor."
Like against Florida.
The Gators turned up their backcourt pressure to narrow a 10-point deficit to 56-53 with 41.8 seconds left on a free throw by Patric Young. But Traevon Jackson hit a floater at the foul line over Jacob Kurtz with about 10 seconds left and Frank Kaminsky blocked a shot on the other to seal the win for Wisconsin (2-0).
"So I wanted to keep it a one-possession game on the road and I thought if we could've gotten one stop, at least we'd get the ball back, three-point game, to either call a timeout or take a quick shot," Donovan said. Jackson disrupted that plan.
Michael Frazier II led Florida (1-1) with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but the run started by Dekker proved to be too much to overcome. Offense helped spark the defense, and vice versa.
"I never felt we got bogged down offensively that we couldn't get good shots," Donovan said. "I'm not so sure that we finished enough plays."
Unlike Dekker and Jackson, a reliable option for the Badgers down the stretch in spite of five turnovers.
"Trae is one of the most mentally tough guys I've been around," Dekker said. "He got his little rock-step going and got that lefty pull-up."
Wisconsin held on in its first home opener against a Top 25 team since beating No. 4 Kansas 67-62 on Dec. 3, 1968.
Ben Brust added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Badgers.
Prather had 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting for Florida but it was Frazier who gave the Badgers the most trouble.
They didn't have an answer for the sharpshooter in the opening 8 minutes. Frazier was 5 of 8 in the first half, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range, to help the Gators build a 16-4 lead in the first half.
But Donovan was noticing another part of Frazier's game.
"He's one of the best shooters I've coached," Donovan said. "But he has got a long way to go defensively."
Still, Frazier's scoring was a huge boost for Florida, which has started the season with just eight scholarship players due to injuries and off-court issues.
Then, things started swaying Wisconsin's way. Dekker was a big reason why after he shook off early tight defense by Prather.
It was only a matter of time for the multidimensional Dekker. He can beat defenders off the dribble and hit from long range. He's a whirl of energy on the court, his eyes seemingly always wide open when calling for the ball.
Dekker followed his first 3 with another 3 in transition from the wing. Having created some space to maneuver, he went strong in the lane for his next two baskets.
Shots started falling for the rest of the Badgers.
Jackson hit a 3 off a pick to help give Wisconsin a 29-26 halftime lead. Nigel Hayes' putback at the shot clock buzzer with 13:36 left in the game gave Wisconsin a 10-point lead before Florida turned up the pressure down the stretch.
A few other players are coming back from injuries including Will Yeguete (knee); Eli Carter (leg) and Frazier (mononucleosis).
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