One Sweet Turnaround

Once down 14 late in the first half, second-seed Wisconsin staged a furious second-half comeback, punctuated with a gritty three-offensive-rebound possession. That sequence delivered the dagger to seventh-seed Oregon in the Badgers' 85-77 victory in the NCAA tournament third round Saturday.

MILWAUKEE - Doing the little things can help you accomplish big things. That's what head coach Bo Ryan preached to his team since the first team meeting in the fall. That was no more evident than when the Badgers corralled three crucial offensive rebounds in the final minutes to seal one of the more exciting comebacks in recent program history.

Following Sam Dekker's fifth offensive rebound of the game, senior Ben Brust cashed in on 3-pointer - No. 228 of his career - to give second-seed Wisconsin the last lead change to lift the Badgers over seventh-seed Oregon, 85-77, in front of a red-clad 18,206 fans at the Bradley Center.

The victory sends Wisconsin (28-7) to Anaheim, California, and its seventh Sweet 16 since 2000, where the Badgers will face either third-seed Creighton or sixth-seed Baylor Thursday.

Brust hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:07 remaining and the Badgers trailing 75-74. All Wisconsin needed was a basket to re-ignite a home-filled crowd that had seen its team trail for most of the first half.

"It was a wild sequence of events there," said Brust, who finished with 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting. "I think Sam got it, threw it to Trae, and Trae just found me, and as soon as I let it go, I knew it was going down, which was a good feeling."

Junior Josh Gasser took the first of four Wisconsin shots that missed its mark on that possession. But each time a shot bounced off the iron, a Wisconsin player was there fighting for the ball.

Finally, after Bronson Koenig grabbed the Badgers' second offensive rebound, Ryan called a timeout to regroup the team with 1:26 remaining. During the timeout, Ryan subbed Koenig for Brust, who had been sitting with four fouls.

The strategic move paid off. Dekker's rebound on a Frank Kaminsky miss, who scored 11 of his 19 points in the second half, allowed Jackson the chance to find Brust open on the right wing for the game-winning shot.

"Whenever you can fight for possessions and keep it going, hopefully good things are going to come," said Dekker. "Coach is all about the little things. If you can do the little things right, things are going to come back to you and offensive rebounds is one of those little things you have to do."

Wisconsin finished outrebounding the Ducks, 36-26, including securing 14 rebounds on the offensive glass. Each offensive rebound meant another chance at points.

Extra possessions mixed with a win-or-go home attitude were crucial for the Badgers needing every extra opportunity to score against the quick-strike Ducks.

"I think so and we got some good bounces," Dekker said. "A lot of times we'll have guys crashing and it'll bounce the other way. There were a few times where it was bouncing right to us and bouncing off guys hands and we were able to get them. When you can get those second chances, those little toughness points, a lot of things are going to come back for you and we were able to hit a lot of shots after those."

Wisconsin turned its 14 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points, compared to Oregon's four. Those points were important for Badgers after missing four of their first five and the Ducks took made four of their first six, building up a lead that swelled to as many as 14.

"That team was hitting every shot," Dekker said. "Some great shooters out there that got hot and stayed hot and for us to be able to overcome that and fight through that and make more plays on the other end of the court, I think it says a lot about our team and the resiliency we have."

Holding a 19-2 advantage on the fast-break in the first half, the pace didn't surprise UW, but the Ducks seemed to answer in a hurry every time UW made a shot, as many of their shots came on possessions lasting no more than 10 seconds.

Oregon guard Joseph Young was one of those hot shooters, leading all scorers with 29 points (17 at halftime) on 10-for-19 from the field.

"Their quickness was on display," Ryan said of Oregon's transition game. "That stat right there (fast-break points) will tell you that it's the old ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.' If they did the same thing in the second half, we're going home and not playing anymore."

The Badgers defense wasn't fooled again, tightening up and hustling back in transition. Oregon didn't score a fast-break point in the second half. It didn't hurt that the Badgers started making more shots, either.

The Badgers shot 29-for-60 (48.3 percent) in the game, 7-for-16 from 3-point range in their 48-point second half and a 17-6 run in the first five minutes, waking a crowd that ended the first half frustrated with a few questionable whistles.

"We've had explosions in other parts of the season, too," Ryan said of UW's offensive surge in the second half. "We've had some dry spells. So again, that's what (is) so unforgiving about this time of the year. If you don't have some of those, you're going home. I mean, if you don't stay offensively in the race, you can be playing defense – we were playing hard defensively."

And because of it, Wisconsin will be one of 16 teams remaining with a shot at the national championship.

"That was a lot of pent up frustration during that first half and stuff," Dekker said about the Badgers' wild victory celebration. "To give our crowd and see how happy they were, that made me even more happy, so it was just a great moment for us and for our team and our family."


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