Nigel Hayes scored seven of his team-high 24 points in a 17-0 first-half run and five more in the final minutes as Wisconsin held off Wisconsin-Green Bay 84-79 Wednesday night, giving Greg Gard a nerve-wracking win in his first game as the Badgers' interim coach.
Gard spent 23 years as an assistant to Bo Ryan, including the past 15 at Wisconsin, before being named interim coach when Ryan abruptly announced his retirement immediately after the Badgers' victory over Texas A&M Corpus Christi Dec. 15.
It looked like Wisconsin (8-5) would cruise in Gard's debut, as the Badgers led by 21 at halftime and were up 30 at 68-38 after two free throws by Hayes with 13:01 to play. But the Phoenix (7-6) used their full-court press to force turnovers in a stunning 33-6 surge and got as close as three on three occasions in the final 1:45. Carrington Love led Green Bay with 28 points.