Badgers men's basketball: Saturday's gritty win brings regional semifinal game against Baylor

2014-03-24T07:30:00Z Badgers men's basketball: Saturday's gritty win brings regional semifinal game against BaylorJIM POLZIN | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6473

MILWAUKEE — It lasted 47 seconds and included three missed shots, two of which were contested. In the midst of it, Bo Ryan used a timeout to address spacing and allow his players to take a deep breath and regroup.

While there have been much uglier offensive possessions among the roughly 2,200 the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team has accumulated this season, this one was far from smooth.

So how did the bottom line of the possession — a 3-pointer by senior guard Ben Brust with 67 seconds remaining that gave the Badgers the lead for good in their 85-77 victory over Oregon on Saturday night in an NCAA tournament game at the Bradley Center — end up being so beautiful for Ryan’s team?

Grit, pure and simple.

“I couldn’t keep track on the sideline who was getting all the offensive rebounds,” UW associate head coach Greg Gard said. “Everybody was flying around, bodies were flying and we kept coming out with the ball. Obviously, it shows the will of this team.”

UW finished with 14 offensive rebounds in a victory that clinched a spot in the Sweet 16. The second-seeded Badgers (28-7) will meet sixth-seeded Baylor (26-11) in a West regional semifinal at 6:47 p.m. Thursday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

Three of UW’s offensive rebounds against the Ducks came on the possession that ended with Brust making the 228th 3-pointer of his career, moving him past Tim Locum as the Badgers’ all-time leader in that category.

Oregon won the battle of 50/50 balls in the first half, but UW owned that category in the second half and it was particularly noticeable during that critical possession late in the game.

After junior guard Josh Gasser missed a 3-pointer from the left corner, Oregon’s Mike Moser and Elgin Cook both went for the ball and it got deflected to UW sophomore forward Sam Dekker in the lane.

Badgers junior guard Traevon Jackson followed by misfiring from 3-point range, but junior center Frank Kaminsky got a piece of the ball and freshman guard Bronson Koenig outworked Oregon’s Johnathan Loyd on the baseline to corral the loose ball.

After Ryan’s timeout, Kaminsky drove to the rim and missed an awkward shot, but he got a hand on the ball to keep it alive and Dekker chased it down. He passed to Jackson, who found Brust open on the right wing.

Remember Dekker’s comments midway through the season, after a home loss to Northwestern, about the Badgers being “soft” and “unaggressive” and “the team that’s lacking in all the categories that you need to win?”

None of those labels applied to UW in the second half Saturday, when it was tough and aggressive and a team willing to do anything possible to advance.

“Whenever you can fight for possessions and keep it going, hopefully good things are going to come,” Dekker said. “Coach is all about the little things, and if you do the little things right, things are going to come back to you. Offensive (rebounding) is one of those little things that you have to do.”

Up next for UW is Baylor, which rolled to an 85-55 victory over third-seeded Creighton on Sunday night in San Antonio.

The Bears shot 63.8 percent overall and 61.1 percent from 3-point range against the Bluejays. Their zone defense held Creighton, which has the most efficient offense in the country, to 24.4 points below its season average.

Baylor, which is located in Waco, Texas, tied for sixth place in the 10-team Big 12 Conference during the regular season. But the Bears, who are coached by Scott Drew, have won 12 of their past 14 games since a 1-7 stretch midway through the season.

Senior Corey Jefferson, a 6-foot-9 forward, leads Baylor with 13.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Senior guard Brady Heslip is shooting 46.8 percent from 3-point range — he went 5 of 7 vs. Creighton — and is averaging 11.9 points per game.

Junior guard Kenny Chery (11.5) and sophomore center Isaiah Austin (11.2) also average in double figures in scoring for the Bears. The 7-1 Austin is among the nation’s leaders in blocked shots with 3.2 per game.

Baylor is long, athletic and peaking at the right time of the year. To beat the Bears and advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2005, the Badgers likely will have to display the same fortitude they showed in the second half against Oregon.

At halftime, with his team trailing by 12 points, Ryan had one final question for the Badgers in the locker room before they returned to the court.

How were they going to feel on the bus ride back to Madison after the game?

The answer: Filled with joy, because the Badgers went down fighting and showed their resolve, especially during that key possession late in the game.

“I knew they were a pretty determined group,” Gard said, “that didn’t want to take off the uniforms and pack them away after tonight.”

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(14) Comments

  1. Fflambeau
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    Fflambeau - March 24, 2014 11:03 pm
    Baylor not only lost a lot of games this year, they won all 3 of their overtime games (including one to Northwestern State!), so they just as easily could have been a 21-14 team. I think if the Badgers bring their usual game, they win easily. Moreover, Baylor plays a zone on defense and this Wisconsin team has the shooters to beat any zone.
  2. squirrel
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    squirrel - March 24, 2014 3:18 pm
    So we don't become too overwhelmed here boys, let us not loose sight of the fact this same Baylor team lost 11 games this season and in many they were not even in the game. We will beat them by playing solid defense, which we most often do. Second, Austin can get in foul trouble trying to block those shots. Stay the course we will be just fine. Overall balance will win the day.
  3. adamman
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    adamman - March 24, 2014 2:54 pm
    Good list. The only thing I would add is that the winning team needs to score more points than the losing team. That's the main adjustment. :)
  4. retired
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    retired - March 24, 2014 2:49 pm
    I have never seen a dirtier team than Oregon. In the end, they were running their mouth to each other. It really felt good that the Wisc. boys sent them packing. By watching their coach who did nothing and came real close at half time of opening his mouth too much, I guess dirty play must be the norm in Oregon. Oregon, good bye good rid. may our path's never cross.
  5. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - March 24, 2014 1:00 pm
    A good team has to adjust not only to the other team but also to the arena, the crowd, the clock, the foul situation, the stakes, and the officiating. In this case, it was the officiating.
  6. Honorary Kentucky Colonel
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    Honorary Kentucky Colonel - March 24, 2014 12:59 pm
    Jackson is a class act, a great kid, an above average (if inconsistent) ballplayer, and a GREAT Badger Ambassador!

    He's made more big plays for Bucky than boneheaded ones; won more games than he's lost.

    Can anyone imagine how they'd feel if their son/daughter were the object of such ill-informed (for the most part) and just plain mean twitterverse& social media scorn?

    Some moron was on here a couple of weeks ago with a site or twitter that went something like #benchtraevonjackson encouraging others to play along.

    Honestly, whose freakin' life is so pitiably empty that they're actually comfortable lashing out at someone that's trying their unpaid level best?

    Oh, it's a good thing he did remain composed; TJ would have wiped the hardwoods with Calliste.

    Go Badgers!!
  7. Short Guy
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    Short Guy - March 24, 2014 12:50 pm
    rockemred: I like your comments. I think we can expect they'll try to get Kaminsky in foul trouble knowing that if they succeed they'll have advantages inside. To keep Kaminsky in the game maybe we'll see Dukan (or Anderson?) a bit more to hack Jefferson & Austin because they don't shoot free throws well. In turn I think our bigs must take the ball to the basket. If we were to get Jefferson and/or Austin in foul trouble, advantage UW. In order to rebound with Baylor, UW guards must also get dribble penetration and kick the ball back out to Kaminsky, drawing Austin or Jefferson outside. Whoever draws Heslip defensively better have their hand in his face. Go Bucky
  8. adamman
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    adamman - March 24, 2014 11:09 am

    Good evaluation. I've been critical of Jackson's play most of the season. But the situation you pinpointed won him a lot of respect. And the free throws, big time stuff. Let's hope Jackson avoids the turnovers and errant passes against Baylor

  9. hoosierbadger
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    hoosierbadger - March 24, 2014 10:46 am
    100% thought the same thing.The big guy from Bailer with the glasses could be a problem.
    This is how I played it out in my bracket but now not so sure,Bucky will definitely have to play better defensively
  10. Ernest Pellegrino
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    Ernest Pellegrino - March 24, 2014 10:26 am
    That wasn't chippy play. It was an example of poor anger management. Jackson showed real maturity when he smiled it off and marched to the line and made his free throws.
  11. rockemred
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    rockemred - March 24, 2014 9:25 am
    I have watched Baylor play this year whenever I had the chance. Baylor is definitely peaking at the right time, playing very confident, they absolutely destroyed Creighton the entire game. Wisconsin will have their hands full, Austin the center owns the paint, he is skilled and intimidating, Kaminisky will have to hit some from the top of the key in order to keep Austin out of the paint. What a tough game for the Badgers this will be, good luck Bucky, play like the team who played in the second half against Oregon, and it will be on to the elite 8, shoot a low percentage and we are done.
  12. adamman
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    adamman - March 24, 2014 9:16 am
    The Badgers squad seems to have the ability to "rise to the occasion". Baylor will be the toughest challenge of the season. Each Badger will need to bring their A game to this one.

    I can't remember a more deserving and entertaining UW basketball team. Thank you Bo Ryan and your great players for a fantastic season. Bo Ryan is the best coach in college basketball, and he recruits and plays high character men.

    Who hired Bo? Was it Pat Richter? Richter gets much less credit than he deserves.
  13. Honorary Kentucky Colonel
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    Honorary Kentucky Colonel - March 24, 2014 8:43 am
    Before the Baylor Creighton game, I would have said I'd overwhelmingly prefer to play Baylor.

    After watching them absolutely shellack the Blue Jays, I stand corrected.

    Baylor has to be the best team I've watched so far this Tourney.

    This will be one TOUGH out!

    Go Badgers!!
  14. ddltrek
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    ddltrek - March 24, 2014 6:28 am
    The Badgers also did not respond to the "chippy" play of Oregon and never lost their cool and retaliate.

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