The Badgers, patient and precise with their passing, fed center
Frank Kaminsky in the middle of the zone early in the game and then
had its way with the Bears on both ends of the court.
Wisconsin led by 13 at halftime and eased to a 69-52 victory at the
Honda Center on Thursday night to reach its first regional final
Kaminsky scored 19 points and had a career-high six blocked shots,
helping carve up a 1-3-1 Baylor zone that had stuffed Creighton and
star Doug McDermott a round earlier.
"That was one of our points on our scouting report — get into the
middle of the zone and try to make some plays happen," Kaminsky
said. "They left the middle of zone open a little bit and we were
able to get the ball in there and get some easy baskets at the rim
or some easy kick-outs for threes."
Wisconsin, 29-7 and seeded second in the West, will play top-seeded
Arizona (33-4) in the regional final Saturday. The Wildcats beat
fourth-seeded San Diego State 70-64 Thursday.
Wisconsin's dominance was such that Kaminsky had as many field goals
as Baylor (six) two minutes into the second half. The Badgers'
success pulled Baylor out of its zone after that, but the Bears fell
behind 39-20 with 16 minutes left and never threatened the rest of
"They were much better on the inside than I thought they would be,"
said Baylor coach Scott Drew. "First and foremost was Kaminsky's
ability to finish inside. Once that happened, it caved in the
defense a little bit and they really shot the ball well."
Baylor, which rolled into the Sweet 16 after hitting 11 of 18
3-point shots against Creighton, never found rhythm against
Wisconsin's pack-line defense. The sixth-seeded Bears (26-12)
struggled to get into the lane and made only 2 of 15 shots from
behind the arc.
"We could never get consecutive baskets," Drew said. "We went 2 of
15 from 3, and we needed a few of those to go in."
Kaminsky, a first-team All-Big Ten player, made 8 of 11 shots from
the field, frequently using head fakes and shot fakes to find easier
"We knew he would be critical against that zone," Wisconsin coach Bo
Ryan said. "Frank set the tone. And the other guys followed along
Badgers guard Ben Brust scored 14 points and hit 3 of 5 3-point
shots to continue his hot shooting. He has made 11 of 20 from behind
the arc in the NCAA Tournament. Forward Nigel Hayes came off the
bench to post 10 points and six rebounds, another key factor inside
Forward Cory Jefferson scored a team-high 15 points for Baylor,
which shot 31.6 percent from the field (18 of 57). Center Isaiah
Austin and point guard Kenny Chery each added 12 points. Chery also
had a team-high eight rebounds but only one assist.
[to top of second column]
Wisconsin is allowing 54.7 points through three NCAA Tournament
games, complementing the best offense Ryan has had with the Badgers.
He has taken Wisconsin to the NCAA Tournament in each of his 13
seasons at the school, reaching a regional final for the second
time. Ryan's Badgers lost to top-seeded North Carolina in the 2005
Baylor, which had early double-digits leads in tournament victories
over Nebraska and Creighton, was cold at the start and had to work
uphill. After Jefferson made the team's first shot, the Bears missed
their next six attempts from the field.
Wisconsin stayed patient offensively in a slow-paced first half,
using crisp passes to find an open shot, assisting on 11 of 13
baskets before halftime. The Badgers took a 29-16 lead at halftime
as Baylor was 5 of 24 from the field.
"Wisconsin's probably, if not the toughest team to come back on,
definitely one of the hardest to come back from," Drew said.
"We got away from the zone, tried to go man, tried to pressure them
up. They're extremely hard to pressure and rattle. That led them to
get some easy buckets in the second half. Defensively, once we got
behind, I think we had to do some things we wished we didn't have to
NOTES: Wisconsin played in its third Sweet 16 in the past four
years. The Badgers and Baylor are two of 12 programs to advance to
this level of the NCAA Tournament at least three times since 2010.
... Thursday's game was the first ever in basketball between
Wisconsin and Baylor. ... Wisconsin senior G Ben Brust moved past
Brian Butch (1,115 points) into 28th place on the school's career
scoring list. ... The Honda Center was perhaps 25 percent full at
tip-off, with the majority of fans trickling in later for the
Arizona-San Diego State game. ... Green Bay Packers quarterback
Aaron Rodgers attended the game and visited with Wisconsin after the
game. ... Baylor's 16 points at halftime was its lowest total for a
half this season.
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