SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Josh Gasser, who missed last season with a knee injury, scored 19 points and No. 20 Wisconsin opened the season with an 86-75 victory over St. John's on Friday night.
The Badgers, who had five players score in double figures, never trailed and took control with an early 11-2 run and then went 11 of 23 from 3-point range.
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The game was played in the 3,250-seat Sanford Pentagon.
Sam Dekker had 16 points for Wisconsin, which opened away from home for the first time in eight years.
D'Angelo Harrison had 27 points for the Red Storm and JaKarr Sampson added 21 points and seven rebounds. St. John's was outscored 33-6 from beyond the arc.
Wisconsin led by as many as 18 points in the first half. St. John's got within 58-54 with about 8 minutes left before the Badgers hit consecutive 3-pointers in a span of 22 seconds.
The 6-foot-9 Sampson — the freshman of the year in the Big East last season — did most of his damage in the second half, converting several dunks. His energy helped St. John?s tap into its athleticism and made a run. It trailed by at least seven points for 25 straight minutes.
Harrison finished 9 of 19 from the field for the Red Storm, who hadn't opened against a Top 25 team in
10 years. They lost that game, too, against Marquette.
St. John's was cold early, making nine field goals in the first half compared to 10 turnovers and 10 fouls. It committed just two turnovers in the second half and finished with a 44-24 edge in points in the paint.
Still, Wisconsin ran its winning streak in season openers to 12 and showed considerable depth. Junior forward Duje Dukan scored 15 points after totaling 11 points in his first two seasons. Guards Traevon Jackson and Ben Brust — both returning starters from last season's NCAA tournament team — combined for 28.
The Badgers open their home schedule Tuesday against No. 10 Florida.
This was the first meeting between the programs since the 2002 NCAA tournament. It was played in Sioux Falls as a favor from Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan to Sanford Health CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft, whose son Joe played for the Badgers from 2005-09. The five-sided, $19-million court opened in September and last month hosted an NBA exhibition game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks.