It was a tale of two halves in the third round battle between the Wisconsin Badgers and Oregon Ducks on Saturday night, but when the dust settled in Milwaukee, the Badgers were headed to the Sweet 16 after securing a 85-77 victory.
The first half belonged to the Ducks, as they put together one of the more impressive offensive displays of the entire tournament to this point. Oregon scored a blistering 49 points in the 20-minute half, and given the opponent (high-end defense) and pace (the opposite of fast), that is a staggering amount. The Ducks finished the half on a 9-2 run, and when the dust settled, they held a 12-point advantage at 49-37.
However, the second half didn’t exactly go as well for Oregon. The Badgers, playing virtually in their backyard in Milwaukee, began the half on a 17-6 run to climb within 1 at 55-54, and from there, it was a ballgame again. Moments later, Frank Kaminsky knocked down a mid-range jumper to give Wisconsin their first lead since the early going at 59-58 with 13:29 left, and the Badgers would hold the lead until Joseph Young knotted things up at 70 a piece with just 5:09 to play.
From there, it was a back and forth affair, as neither team led by more than 4 points until the final ticks of the game. Ben Brust set a Wisconsin school record for career 3-pointers with his triple at the 1:09 mark that gave the Badgers a 77-75 lead, and when Traevon Jackson went to the line and knocked down 2 free throws with 31 seconds remaining, Wisconsin held a 79-75 advantage. Oregon’s Jason Colliste created a lay-up to cut the lead to 2 with 23 seconds left, but from there, the Ducks would never get as close, as Wisconsin converted free throws and Oregon failed to convert on offensive trips. The final score was certainly not indicative of how close the game was as well, as Wisconsin was given 3 free throws on the final trip after a dead-ball flagrant foul.
It was a thoroughly balanced effort for the victorious Badgers, as all five starters scored in double-figures. They were led by big man Frank Kaminsky, who scored 19 points and grabbed 5 rebounds, while do-everything forward Sam Dekker added 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. On the perimeter, the aforementioned Ben Brust knocked down 4 three-pointers in route to 12 points, and Traevon Jackson was everywhere with big plays, finishing with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.
For Oregon, this was a brutal defeat given their big advantage at the break, but they played extremely well in what amounted to a true road game in Milwaukee. Joseph Young put the Ducks on his back for stretches of the game, exploding for a game-high 29 points including 4 for 7 from 3-point distance, and 6th man Jason Calliste added 20 huge points off the bench.
Next up for Wisconsin will be the winner of the Creighton-Baylor game on Sunday evening (7:40 pm ET).