Rushed Reactions: #2 Wisconsin 85, #7 Oregon 77Posted by Walker Carey on March 22nd, 2014
Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Wisconsin’s second half comeback was monumental. An Oregon offensive flurry had the Ducks leading 49-37 at halftime, but Wisconsin responded with its own flurry to begin the second half. The Badgers went on a 22-9 run to begin the second stanza to take a 59-58 lead at the 13:26 mark. The two teams battled back-and-forth for the rest of the game until a three-pointer from Wisconsin guard Ben Brust gave the Badgers a 77-75 lead with 1:07 to play. That was a lead they would not relinquish. There were many reasons why Wisconsin was able to charge back in the second half, but none was more important than its increased intensity on both ends of the court. After allowing Oregon to shoot 55.6 percent from the field in the first half, the Badgers tightened the screws on their defense and only allowed the Ducks to make 9-of-22 field goals in the second half. The increased intensity on the offensive end of the court was highlighted by its 11 second half offensive rebounds and seven second half three-pointers.
- This was essentially a home game for the Badgers and that environment played a role in the team’s comeback. The Bradley Center in Milwaukee is only 75 miles from Wisconsin’s campus in Madison, and that resulted in the Badgers being extremely well-represented at the arena. For the game with Oregon, a reasonable estimation would be that the crowd was 99-to-1 in favor of Wisconsin. The crowd was raucous at the start of the game, but you could sense a nervous energy when Oregon took a 12-point lead into the half. With Wisconsin’s scorching start to the second stanza, however, the crowd once again regained its mojo and made the Bradley Center a hostile environment for the remainder of the game. If you did not know better, the environment would have made you believe that the game was being played in Wisconsin’s home arena. When the victory was in hand in the final seconds, Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker made a point to salute the crowd in a pretty grand fashion.
- Wisconsin’s inconsistent defense is going to be an issue in Anaheim. During the Bo Ryan era at Wisconsin, defense has been this team’s calling card. This season’s more offensive-minded personnel has resulted in a shift in mantra. Consequently, Wisconsin’s defense has been a bit all over the place this season. For example, the Badgers held American to just 35 total points and 29.7 percent shooting in Thursday’s round of 64 victory. And while Oregon is a much more talented team, it not arguable that Wisconsin’s defense played with far less intensity in the first half Saturday. Oregon took advantage of a plethora of open looks to put up 49 first half points on a sizzling 55.6 percent shooting. The Badgers made some adjustments in the second half and had far more success containing the high-powered Oregon offense. If Wisconsin is not able to string together more consistent defensive efforts this coming week at the West Regional, the Badgers’ stay in Anaheim could only last a single night.
Player(s) of the Game. Josh Gasser and Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin. This pair of junior Badgers were instrumental to the winning effort. Gasser totaled 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, grabbed five rebounds, and dished out three assists. He also kept things steady and under control all night as the team’s primary ball-handler. Kaminsky was a nightmarish match-up for Oregon. His ability to play inside and on the perimeter confused the Ducks all night and led to him scoring 19 points to lead the team.
- “We did not get stops and we did not rebound. Simple as that.” – Oregon forward Mike Moser, describing what happened in the second half.
- “Not like this.” – Oregon coach Dana Altman, after being asked if he has ever seen such a raucous environment in an NCAA Tournament game.
- “We have to thank our crowd. That crowd was unbelievable. In the NCAA Tournament, not many teams get that. We have to feel pretty fortunate.” – Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser, acknowledging what helped the second half surge.
- “We all believed we could do it and we went out there and did it.” – Wisconsin guard Ben Brust, describing the team’s mindset when it was trailing by 12 at halftime.
Sights and Sounds. The environment at the Bradley Center was raucous all evening. The pro-Wisconsin crowd created an environment that is entirely unusual in the NCAA Tournament. The Big Ten has a reputation for having really strong fan bases and Saturday night proved that Wisconsin’s is just as good as any of its league rivals. Among the Badgers’ supporters were athletic director and former head football coach Barry Alvarez and two-time U.S. Open champion golfer Andy North.
What’s Next. Wisconsin advances to the Sweet Sixteen in Anaheim where it will play the winner of Creighton and Baylor Thursday evening.