NCAA West: Oregon lets big lead disappear when Wisconsin slows down its running game
Wisconsin advances with 85-77 victory, thanks to a late three-pointer from Ben Brust
The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE — As an earsplitting roar enveloped the arena, the Wisconsin Badgers pointed to their chests and strutted off the floor as if they had won a prize fight.
In a test of basketball tempos, Wisconsin delivered the knockout punch.
Ben Brust hit a three-pointer with 1:07 left and the second-seeded Badgers returned to the Sweet 16 after overcoming No. 7 Oregon’s transition game for a thrilling 85-77 victory Saturday night in the NCAA West Regionals.
Trailing by 12 at the half, coach Bo Ryan’s veteran squad didn’t flinch.
“To be able to handle that smack in the face in the first half and come back and deliver one of our own says a lot about this group,” Ryan said.
Brust’s clutch three from the corner gave the Badgers (28-7) the lead for good in a clash of styles played before a boisterous pro-Wisconsin crowd at the anything-but-neutral Bradley Center.
Traevon Jackson followed Brust’s shot with three free throws, but missed one with 21 seconds left to give the Ducks (24-10) one more chance to tie.
Oregon gave it to Joseph Young, who had made big shots all night and scored 29 points. But he missed a rushed three from the wing, and the Badgers sealed it at the foul line.
“That shot he took, no one questioned it,” Oregon’s Richard Amardi said about Young. “It looked good. Unfortunately it just didn’t go in when we wanted it.”
The Badgers are back in the NCAA regional semifinals for the first time since 2012. They will play Baylor or Creighton in Anaheim, Calif., on Thursday.
“Once that momentum swung, we were in trouble,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said.
Frank Kaminsky led the way with 19 points, Jackson finished with 16 and Brust had 12 — all three-pointers.
Left off-kilter by the Ducks’ transition game early and trailing by 12 at the half, the Badgers hustled back in the second half to answer the Oregon charge. After 19 points on the break in the first half, Oregon had nothing in transition after halftime.
“Do you know how many fast-break points they got in the second half? Zero,” Ryan said. “Oregon, one of the quickest teams in the country, so you’ve got to give the players a heckuva lot of credit.”
The halfcourt sets belonged to Wisconsin, and the pace was to their liking.
Buckets in the lane by Kaminsky, a jump-shooting 7-footer, and coach Ryan’s gritty guards set the tone inside, and later helped open up the perimeter.
“It’s tournament time, and no one wants to go home,” Kaminsky said. “You’re doing whatever you can to stay in. If that means being physical down low with anyone — it’s a battle.”
San Diego State 63, North Dakota State 44
SPOKANE — Xavier Thames scored 30 points and the fourth-seeded Aztecs (31-4) reached the round of 16 for the second time in school history, ending the run of No. 12 seed Bisons (26-7).
San Diego State now gets to make the short drive up the interstate to Anaheim, Calif., where it will face either No. 1 seed Arizona or eighth-seeded Gonzaga.
Thames, a former Washington State player who was 9 of 19 from the field, had five assists and ended the comeback hopes of the Bison with a six-point spurt late in the second half.
Dwayne Polee II added 15 points for San Diego State.