Traevon Jackson is paying close attention to Nigel Hayes. Same for Sam Dekker, who thinks the freshman reserve is going to be a big-time player for No. 4 Wisconsin.
Jackson and Dekker are teaching. Hayes is listening, and it's paying off.
Hayes had a career-high 19 points and the Badgers remained unbeaten with an easy 76-49 victory over Northwestern in their Big Ten opener Thursday night.
"What Nigel's doing, one of the biggest reasons he's able to do that, besides his frame, is that he's intelligent," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "Very smart. Picks up things very quickly and he's so perceptive on the court."
Hayes went 8 for 12 from the field and had a season-high six rebounds while showing a nice combination of power and finesse. The prize recruit is averaging 15.3 points in his last three games.
"I'm feeling a little more comfortable out there," Hayes said.
Northwestern (7-7, 0-1) has dropped two straight after a three-game winning streak. Alex Olah had a career-high 23 points, but leading scorer Drew Crawford was held to 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting.
The Wildcats shot 34.5 percent (19 for 55) and their reserves managed just four points, compared to 32 for their counterparts on the Badgers.