MILWAUKEE, Wis. - Call it what you will, but Saturday's game between the No. 2 seed Wisconsin Badgers and the No. 7 seed Oregon Ducks could only be summarized in one word: Madness.
Wisconsin defeated Oregon, 85-77, to go to its sixth Sweet 16 under Bo Ryan. But the game itself, at times, was anything but sweet.
The first half saw the Ducks shoot 56 percent (15-for-27) from the field, 56 percent from three-point range (5-for-9) and 93 percent (14-for-15) from the free-throw line. They scored 49 points on 34 possessions for a rate of 1.44 points per possession.
Joseph Young torched the Badgers for 17 points in the first half and Jason Calliste contributed 14 points while going a perfect 3-for-3 from the field and 7-for-7 from the line. Young finished the game with 29 points and Calliste finished with 20.
In the first half alone, Oregon had 19 fast-break points.
"Coach gave us a - you know, he kind of ripped into us a little bit just telling us, hey, we can do this," Traevon Jackson said. "I think we responded well."
The Badgers responded by starting the second half on a 17-6 run that brought the 18,206 fans in attendance to their feet.
"That was the best crowd at any Wisconsin game I have ever played in," Jackson said. "It was deafening at times."
Wisconsin scored on seven consecutive trips down the court to begin the half and limited Oregon to just 3-for-9 shooting during that stretch.
Perhaps the biggest difference between halves was that after giving up 19 fast-break points in the first half, the Badgers did not allow a single point in transition in the second half.
"Do you know how many points they got in the second half? Zero. Oregon. One of the quickest teams in the country," Ryan said. "You got to give the players a heck of a lot of credit - you don't stop fast breaks by just the crowd making noise, which was fantastic, but you have to get your bodies shutting off the driving lines, things like that, and covering three-point shooters."
Down by one with 13:26 remaining in the game, Frank Kaminsky hit an open jumper from the foul-line to give the Badgers a 59-58 advantage.
Ben Brust extended Wisconsin's lead to six with 10:38 to play on his 227th three-pointer of his career, tying him with Tim Locum as Wisconsin's all-time leader.
After the Ducks had climbed their way back to take the lead at 75-74, the Badgers missed a three-pointer and got the offensive rebound before misfiring on another jumper and collecting a second offensive board, leading to a Wisconsin timeout.
Brust, who had been sitting on the bench with four fouls, came back into the game. Jackson had an open look at the top of the key, but saw Brust out of the corner of his eye. Despite, "almost popping it myself," Jackson made the pass to Brust who hit his 228th career three pointer to not only break the record, but to also, and more importantly, give the Badgers a 77-75 advantage with 1:07 remaining in the game.
The Badgers missed nine free throws in the game, but hit them when they counted most. Jackson hit six free throws in the final thirty seconds and Dekker sealed it with two in the final 10 seconds.
Wisconsin had five players in double-figures, led by Frank Kaminsky's 19. Jackson finished the game with 16, Josh Gasser had 13, and Dekker and Brust each had 12 a piece.
While Wisconsin fans all over the state will be celebrating the victory until next week, the Badgers know that their work has only just begun.
"For about an hour," Wisconsin assistant coach Gary Close said of how long they will enjoy the victory. "I've got stuff on Creighton for the bus ride home."
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