With one game under its belt, Wisconsin can breath a little easier. The fifth-seeded Badgers handled 12th-seeded Weber State 81-74 Thursday night and now must prepare for Round Two of the Midwest Regional in the 2003 NCAA Tournament and the 13th-seeded Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Coach Bo Ryan's team won its first-round matchup against underdog Weber St. by playing consistent team basketball, as it has all season long. Senior guard Kirk Penney paced Wisconsin's balanced attack with 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Three other Badgers - sophomore Mike Wilkinson, sophomore Devin Harris and freshman Alando Tucker - also tallied double-digit points with 15, 14 and 11 respectively.
The Badgers look to have regained some of their winning ways from the regular season that rewarded them with a second consecutive Big Ten title. By ending Weber State's 17-game winning streak and bursting the bubble of the most popular Cinderella team in the tournament this year, the Badgers look poised to make some noise the tournament. With their victory Thursday night, the Badgers achieved their 23rd victory of the season, marking a school record for wins.
Up next for UW is the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, the makers of the biggest upset on day one of the Big Dance. The Golden Hurricane, winners of the Western Atlantic Conference tournament with a regular season record of 23-9 overall and 12-6 in conference play, dominated the fourth-seeded Dayton Flyers en route to an 84-71 victory on Thursday.
Tulsa Coach John Phillips has his guys playing at a very high level, and more importantly, has them fearing no one in this tournament. Shooting a spectacular 66.7 percent in the first half and leading by as many as 19 points, the three-guard offense of Dante Swanson, Jason Parker and Jarius Glenn jumped all over Dayton from the get-go and never gave it a chance to catch up.
Fast-break offense, turnovers, and transition game won it for Tulsa as it finished with a team 57 percent shooting. In all, it was domination from start to finish and it looked like Dayton had nothing to keep up with the speedy Golden Hurricane. There was balanced scoring as well for Tulsa, with Swanson and Parker both finishing with 24 points.
This second-round matchup is scheduled for a 4:50 p.m. CST tip Saturday. From one Cinderella to another, the Badgers will definitely have their hands full as they look to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
THREE KEYS FOR UW
1. Tempo—UW plays a slower, stingy style compared to Tulsa and if the Badgers can get the Golden Hurricane into the half-court game, UW will be in good position.
2. Bench- A big key to UW's game is going to have to come from the bench. With the injury to Freddie Owens, it's unknown how much of an impact he will make Saturday. What's for sure is he won't be 100 percent. Ryan will have to dig deeper into his bench to find a hidden hero for the Badger squad if they look to advance in the tournament.
3. Turnovers- UW will have to force Tulsa into turnovers in order to win. The Big Ten's best in forcing turnovers, they will hope to limit the number of easy shots that the Golden Hurricane will get, and create more fast break and easier transition baskets for the Badgers.
THREE KEYS FOR TULSA
1. Hot Shooting - Tulsa lit up Dayton in their first round game by shooting near 70 percent for the first half and about 56 percent for the game. It will be tough to reproduce the same type of shooting performance against the Badgers, but anything above 50 percent or so against UW will put them in great contention to win.
2. Free Throws- Although it shot the ball incredibly well against Dayton, Tulsa didn't get to the free throw line for the first time until 6:09 remaining in the game. If the Hurricane wants to beat the Badgers, they'll need to get UW into foul trouble and must end up making more free throws than UW attempts.
3. Cinderella- Cinderella doesn't look to be in the best of shapes in 2003. Many of the so-called possible Cinderella schools, Weber State, BYU, UW-Milwaukee and Holy Cross have already fallen. But we all know, Cinderella always makes it to the ball. Will it be Tulsa?
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