Duje Dukan isn't known for his defense, having taken one charge in 55 career games entering Saturday's NCAA tournament third round, but the junior might have made the defensive play of the game in Wisconsin's 85-77 victory over Oregon at the Bradley Center to send them to its third Sweet 16 in four seasons.
"We go through ups and downs throughout the game, and encouragement is huge for us in terms of picking each other up," said guard Traevon Jackson. "I was thinking (the play of the game was) Duje's charge. The whole bench was just going wild. That really kind of got the team going. To see a guy do something like that, those are the type of things that bring the types of teams together."
Wisconsin's defense was getting beaten to a pulp after the first 20 minutes, as Oregon's up-tempo style resulted in 19 fast-break points, 5-for-9 from 3-point range, 56 percent from the floor and a 12-point halftime lead for the Ducks.
The Badgers quickly jumped back into the game, unleashing a 30-12 run over the first 9:22 of the second half to open the half to flip the lead and give Wisconsin its largest lead to that point at 67-61.
It was then that Dukan stood his ground. Making up for a missed 3-pointer on the previous position, Dukan kept his feet in front of Oregon's Elgin Cook and drew the charge when Cook lowered his right shoulder into Dukan's chest, sending him sprawling under the basket.
Nigel Hayes ran over to help him out, clapping all the way. Josh Gasser unleashed a furious fist pump, Ben Brust emphatically pointed toward UW's basket and Bronson Koenig gave him a slap on the back.
"We talked about it for two days that we had to take charges on them," said associate head coach Greg Gard. "That was a huge play."
Dukan was subbed out and got the high five from Ryan and everyone else on the bench, as UW held on to a 67-63 lead.
"First one ever," a grinning Dukan said of the Ryan high-five.
That continued the theme of Wisconsin forcing Oregon into tougher jump shots, be more physical on the glass and making the Ducks think twice about driving into the paint.
Look no further than Cook, who has a career-high 23 points against BYU on Thursday but the former Milwaukee Hamilton standout was limited to only five and the Ducks only scored four more points in the paint the rest of the game.
"Coach was one thing he was mentioning at halftime, we needed to take a charge to try to get them to hesitate driving into the lane and make it a little bit tougher," said Dukan. "I got the opportunity. It presented himself, and I took the charge."
"It's a great feeling to be representing Badger Nation and all the Wisconsin people," added Dukan. "It's definitely a great feeling to go back to the Sweet 16 after we worked so hard to get here."
Redshirting last season after coming down with mononucleosis before the 2012 season, Dukan scored a career-high 15 points in a career-best 21 minutes in the season-opening win over St. John's, but was rarely used in Big Ten play with the emergence of Nigel Hayes.
He hasn't scored more than seven in a game since the opener and has played in 10-or-more minutes only four times against Big Ten teams, including only once after January 14. He played in just five minutes and scored two points against the Ducks, but gave UW the lift of energy it needed on defense.
"How about a teammate saying probably the play of the game was Duje taking that charge?" Ryan said of Jackson's comment. "Without a doubt if you saw our bench, if you looked at our bench when that happened, you looked at our guys, that was the play of the game."