MADISON, Wis.— Sam Dekker scored 16 points, Traevon Jackson added 13 and No. 20 Wisconsin overcame a sloppy start Tuesday night to hold off No. 11 Florida in its home opener, 59-53.
The Gators turned up their backcourt pressure to narrow a 10-point deficit to 51-48 with 2 minutes left on two free throws by center Patric Young. Another free throw by Young cut it to 56-53 with 41.8 seconds left.
But 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).
Michael Frazier II led Florida (1-1) with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
Dekker’s 3-pointer with 11:06 left in the first half sparked a 22-10 run that gave Wisconsin control.
He was Wisconsin’s go-to guy for much of the game before Jackson’s clutch basket late.
Ben Brust added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Badgers.
Casey 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 16-7 lead with 11 minutes left in the half.
That 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.
Then 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.
But the Badgers held on in their first home opener against a ranked opponent since beating Kansas in 1968.
Florida has been without center Damontre Harris, forward Dorian Finney-Smith and point guard Scottie Wilbekin because of suspension or off-court issues.
A few other players are coming back from injuries including Will Yeguete (knee); Eli Carter (leg) and Frazier (mononucleosis).