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Three Key Takeaways.
- Wisconsin survived a below-average performance. Wisconsin looked like it was in a funk for most of the game but the Badgers still showed flashes of the greatness that they exhibited during the regular season. Oregon hung around for most of the game before Bo Ryan’s team put the Ducks away late. Wisconsin rode a balanced attack from its starters and only turned the ball over six times, but this was not a performance that the Badgers will think fondly of. Nevertheless, they got the result they wanted — a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in Los Angeles. Wisconsin has shown few weaknesses this year so it’s not crazy that they experienced a bit of a lapse here today; what is crazy, though, is that they had such a lapse and still defeated an explosive Oregon team by seven points.
- Joe Young went down in a blaze of glory. The senior attempted 25 shots on Sunday, more than three times the Ducks’ second-most active shooter, Dillon Brooks. Young, who scored 30 points, might drive a casual college basketball fan up the wall with his gunner tendencies, but his domination of the offense is the very thing that makes Oregon go. He is really the only Duck who is capable of creating space to get his own shot, so Dana Altman’s strategy to ride him for as long as his team could was a reasonable one. Oregon’s going to miss the Pac-12 Player of the Year for his scoring and toughness, but Altman has proven that he can mold a good team around the strengths of his roster. The round of 32 felt like the limit for Joe Young and this year’s Oregon team, but they should be proud of the way they battled and challenged the most fundamentally sound team in the country.
- Sam Dekker’s stock grew tonight. Dekker has been somewhat of an afterthought with all the publicity centered around Frank Kaminsky this season, but tonight he showcased his entire basketball arsenal. He dunked, defended, blocked shots, sank threes and took care of the basketball. Without him lifting the Badgers, this game would have been even closer at the buzzer. He led the Badgers with 17 points and seven rebounds, but he did so without stealing the show. Dekker’s ability is so often hidden among Wisconsin’s great balance (outside of his magnificent dunks), so it’s great to see him get some of the recognition that he’s deserved all year long.
Star of the game. Sam Dekker. Dekker guided the Wisconsin offense through an atypically mediocre offensive performance here on Friday, sinking two clutch three-pointers and scoring 14 points in the second half to push the Badgers into the Round of 32. Dekker was the only Badger in double-figure scoring in the second stanza today, as he took over as the Badgers’ primary scorer in Sunday’s win.