Heading into the third round match up between the Oregon Ducks and the Wisconsin Badgers, you knew it was going to be a tough battle for both teams. Thanks to a second half outburst, it will be the Badgers who continue to dance to the Sweet 16 and the Ducks flying home.
Oregon came out firing in the first half, shooting 55.6% from the field and a near-perfect 14-of-15 from the free throw line. Jason Calliste came out to start a game about as good as anyone can, going perfect from the charity stripe and scoring 14 points in that first frame. Calliste finished the game with 20 points.
For nearly the final 11 minutes of the first half, the Ducks were in total control and slowly built on their lead. Oregon seemed to hit everything they were shooting and it seemed at times Wisconsin would be no match for the fast-paced Oregon offense. At the half the Badgers were down 49-37, and things seemed as if they could possibly get out of hand.
But a new half started and a new Badgers team came onto the court.
Wisconsin started the second half on a 17-6 run and got the BMO Harris Bradley Center crowd right back into the game. At that point you could see the momentum shift Wisconsin’s way.
Josh Gasser, Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson all made some timely three-point shots to claw back into the lead and sustain it heading down the stretch. Gasser finished with 13 points and Jackson scored 16 points plus added eight rebounds to propel the Badgers to Anaheim, CA where they will play the Sweet 16.
And not to be lost in the shuffle is Brust (12 points), whose three-pointer not only put the Badgers on top for good with 1:08 left, but also set the school record for most three’s made in a career with 228. That shot gave the Badgers a 77-75 advantage and they would never look back.
Oregon did not go down quietly. Joseph Young scored a game-high 29 points, most of which in the second half, and single-handedly put his Oregon teammates on his back. The problem is Young was the only one who showed up in the second half.
Just like they did against American, the Badgers outscored the Ducks in the second frame 48-28. Of those 28 points, Young scored 12 on his own.
Frank Kaminsky’s 19 points led the Badgers, who now await the winner of Baylor vs. Creighton. It didn’t start pretty but it ended sweet for Wisconsin, who advance to their sixth Sweet 16 in the past 12 years.