ANAHEIM, Calif. — Wisconsin junior center Frank Kaminsky had 19 points and a career-high six blocked shots, and the Badgers carved up the Baylor zone early en route to a 69-52 victory in the Sweet 16 at the Honda Center on Thursday night.
Wisconsin’s dominance was such that Kaminsky had as many field goals as Baylor (six) two minutes into the second half. The Badgers’ success pulled Baylor out of its 1-3-1 zone after that, but the Bears fell behind 39-20 with 16 minutes left and never threatened the rest of the way.
Wisconsin, 29-7 and seeded second in the West, will play in the regional final against the winner of top-seeded Arizona and No. 4 San Diego State.
Baylor, which rolled into the Sweet 16 after hitting 11 of 18 3-point shots against Creighton, never found rhythm against Wisconsin’s pack-line defense. The sixth-seeded Bears (26-12) struggled to get into the lane and made only 2 of 15 shots from behind the arc.
Kaminsky, a first-team All-Big Ten player, made 8 of 11 shots from the field. Badgers guard Ben Brust scored 14 points and hit 3 of 5 3-point shots to continue his hot shooting. He has made 11 of 20 from behind the arc in the NCAA Tournament. Forward Nigel Hayes came off the bench to post 10 points and six rebounds.
Forward Cory Jefferson scored a team-high 15 points for Baylor, which shot 31.6 percent from the field (18 of 57). Center Isaiah Austin and point guard Kenny Chery each added 12 points. Chery also had a team-high eight rebounds but only one assist.
Coach Bo Ryan, who has taken Wisconsin to the NCAA Tournament in each of his 13 seasons at the school, reached a regional final for the second time. Ryan’s Badgers lost to top-seeded North Carolina in the 2005 Elite Eight.
Baylor, which had early double-digits leads in tournament victories over Nebraska and Creighton, was cold at the start and had to work uphill. After Jefferson made the team’s first shot, the Bears missed their next six attempts from the field.
Wisconsin solved Baylor’s 1-3-1 zone defense early, working the ball inside to Kaminsky, whose footwork close to the basket allowed him to score six points as the Badgers took an 8-2 lead.
Wisconsin stayed patient offensively in a slow-paced first half, using crisp passes to find an open shot, assisting on 11 of 13 baskets before halftime. The Badgers extended their lead to 14 before taking a 29-16 edge at halftime. Baylor was 5 of 24 from the field in the half.
NOTES: Wisconsin played in its third Sweet 16 in the past four years. The Badgers and Baylor are two of 12 programs to advance to this level of the NCAA Tournament at least three times since 2010. … Thursday’s game was the first ever in basketball between Wisconsin and Baylor. … Wisconsin senior G Ben Brust moved past Brian Butch (1,115 points) into 28th place on the school’s career scoring list. … The Honda Center was perhaps 25 percent full at tip-off, with the majority of fans trickling in later for the Arizona-San Diego State game.
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