NCAA News Wire

Wisconsin’s second-half push ousts Oregon

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MILWAUKEE — All season long, the Wisconsin Badgers had worked to get to this moment.

After losing five of six to negate a 13-0 start, the Badgers finished strong, winning nine of their last 11 games to land the No. 2 seed in a wide-open West Region and virtual home games to start the NCAA Tournament just 75 miles away from Madison, Wis., in the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

But at halftime of the Badgers’ third round meeting with No. 7 seed Oregon, the Badgers were down by a dozen and in danger of it all coming to a crashing halt.

“We all talked (at halftime),” Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser said. “We were upset with the way we played and we didn’t follow the game plan like we knew we needed to. They had a ton of transition points and were just taking it to us.”

The Badgers responded, outscoring the Ducks 17-9 to open the half, erasing a 12-point deficit and holding on for a 85-77 victory over the Ducks in front of 18,206 mostly-red-clad fans.

“The crowd was unbelievable,” Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky said. “We fed off their energy. They were into it the whole game and that was obviously and advantage for us.”

Kaminsky and guard Ben Brust bookended the comeback effort, combining for 20 of Wisconsin’s 48 second-half points.

Kaminsky scored nine points during Wisconsin’s early run and gave the Badgers a 59-58 lead on an open 12-footer with 13:26 to play. Brust hit three second-half 3-pointers, including one with 1:07 left that gave Wisconsin the lead for good.

“It had a little bit to do with the pressure they were putting on the guards,” Kaminsky said. “They were able to find me in the post open and I was looking at some easy buckets there.”

Oregon guard Joseph Young was a problem for Wisconsin all game long. He hit four shots from long distance and finished with a game-high 29 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field.

After Wisconsin rallied to take back the lead, Young tied the score at 70 on an underhanded layup with five minutes left and forward Mike Moser’s two free throws put the Ducks ahead 72-70 a minute later.

Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker’s layup tied it again at 72 heading into the final TV timeout with 3:05 left.

“We were playing defense and shutting down some things they did in transition,” Dekker said. “And, obviously, we were hitting shots. When you’re hitting shots, things look much easier.”

Young had a chance to tie it with 11 seconds left, but his shot was long and wound up in the hands of Dekker, who drew the foul with 10.4 seconds left and made both free throws to make it a five-point game.

“I was pretty pumped up,” Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. “Our guys were pretty pumped. That’s a lot of emotion for our guys to show, it really is.”

Guard Jason Calliste finished with 20 and Moser added 12 for Oregon, which shot 56 percent from the field in the first half but went 9 of 22 in the second half and was outrebounded 36-26, including 14-3 on the offensive end.

“We didn’t get shots and we didn’t rebound,” Ducks guard Jonathan Lloyd said. “It’s as simple as that.”

For all that had been said about the more high-tempo style the Badgers had shown this season, Wisconsin struggled to match the Ducks’ speed out of the gate.

The Ducks hit 10 of their first 17 shots from the field and three of their first five 3-point attempts and led by as many as nine when Young sank 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. Oregon led 49-37 at the half.

“Once the momentum swung, we were in trouble,” Ducks coach Dana Altman said. “They started hitting some 3s and getting some easy baskets inside. Our defensive effort was just not good. Those easy baskets fueled their energy and we were in big trouble.”

Wisconsin will face the winner of Sunday’s Creighton-Baylor matchup on Thursday in Anaheim, Calif.

NOTES: Wisconsin has made the NCAA Tournament in each of Bo Ryan’s 13 seasons as head coach but has advanced to the Sweet 16 only five times before Saturday. … Oregon has won NCAA Tournament