The Wisconsin Badgers broke free from a tie game late in the second half to beat the Oregon Ducks and return to the Sweet 16.
Any team that makes it to the Final Four is likely to have to win a game along the way in which it doesn't play its best. If Wisconsin, the top seed in the West Regional, ultimately does make it back to the Final Four for the second straight year, it may look back on its Round of 32 matchup against No. 8 Oregon as that game.
The Badgers survived a quiet performance from All-America senior center Frank Kaminsky behind 17 big points from forward Sam Dekker, holding off a challenge from the Ducks and pulling away for a 72-65 win.
Oregon executed its defensive game plan to perfection, throwing double teams at Kaminsky upon his first dribble. That clearly took the Wooden Award favorite out of his rhythm, as he was shut down for a long stretch of the game, at one point going 16 minutes without scoring. Nigel Hayes carried Wisconsin offensively in the first half, scoring 12 points and pushing the Badgers to a three-point lead.
After halftime, it was Dekker’s show. The junior, who is expected to be a first-round pick in the NBA draft this June, scored 14 points in the second stanza, including five straight after the Ducks tied the game at 52 with just under than six minutes remaining. That propelled the Badgers on a 10-2 run that effectively put the game out of reach. By time Oregon scored again, all it could do was hope Wisconsin would falter at the free-throw line. Hayes, Bronson Koenig and Josh Gasser combined to go 10 for 12 in the final minute of the game. On one of the misses, Kaminsky, who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, grabbed an offensive board and scored, putting an exclamation point on the victory.
Senior Joseph Young had a great game for the Ducks, scoring 30 points in his last college game, but he didn't get enough help. No other Oregon player scored more than 12. Elgin Cook had two points on 1-for-8 shooting, while Dillon Brooks went 2 of 7 and finished with four points.
Oregon, which ends it season at 26-10, was eliminated by Wisconsin in this round for the second straight year. The Badgers are now 33-3 and will meet No. 4 North Carolina in the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles on Thursday.