OMAHA, Neb. - In his final 12 regular season games this year, Zak Showalter had scored a total of seven points.
In two games in the NCAA Tournament, he scored seven more.
The five he scored Sunday night along with a career-high five rebounds were instrumental in leading No. 1 seed Wisconsin to a 72-65 victory over No. 8 Oregon before a crowd of 17,563 at the CenturyLink Center.
Wisconsin was clinging to a 40-37 lead with under 12 minutes to play when Showalter knocked down a big 3-pointer with 11:33 to play to make it 43-37. After Dillon Brooks missed a 3 on the other end, Showalter came down and scored on a driving layup to make it 45-37 at the 10:46 mark.It was a crucial five points in 47 seconds. The fact the Showalter’s performance came in a critical time in the game was not lost on his teammates.
“We’re just happy he had some pivotal points and plays in such big moments," said senior Duje Dukan, who also had four points and three rebounds off the bench. “He had a huge impact on this game. He had big, big buckets for us."
Nigel Hayes said the Badgers have been hoping to get some of their bench players opportunities to make contributions in crunch time.
“We’ve been trying to give our guys off the bench confidence that they can do things like that," Hayes said. “It was good that Showy was able to do that. Now he’ll definitely have more confidence next time.
Showalter played 10 minutes in the first half after Bronson Koenig got in foul trouble. He finished with 15 minutes of playing time, which was the most he had seen in a game since Feb. 7 against Northwestern.
“I’m always trying to stay ready," Showalter said. “Some things have been said about our bench. It felt good in the first half to get comfortable. I was ready when Bronson got in foul trouble."
Sam Dekker (team-high 17 points) had plenty of good things to say about his roommate.
"Showy’s a warrior. He battles," Dekker said. “He doesn’t care if he scores. He was able to use his athleticism for a layup and then hit a big shot. I see how much he is in the gym working on his shot. He knows he has to scrap. We put him in for his energy."
Good Thing Happen on Missed Free Throws
In the final 63 seconds, Wisconsin went to the free throw line 10 times. The Badgers made eight of them – six by Bronson Koenig and two by Josh Gasser.
The two misses by Hayes also led to positive results.
With 51 seconds remaining, Hayes made the first of two foul shots to put Wisconsin ahead 63-56. The second one was missed but Oregon fumbled the ball out of bounds and ir went back to the Badgers.
On the inbounds play, Hayes was fouled again with 47 seconds to play, and again hit the first of two. The second was missed but rebounded by Frank Kaminsky who went back up with it and scored to put Wisconsin on top 66-56 with 44 seconds remaining.
Free Throws: The Badgers, in their 21st NCAA Tournament including a 17th consecutive year, reached the Sweet 16 for the 8th time (2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014) in program history, including the 7th time under head coach Bo Ryan ... Wisconsin improved its NCAA Tournament record to 31-19 including 22-13 under Ryan ... The Badgers also moved to 8-6 in the round of 32 while pushing its record to 2-3 vs. No. 8 seeds in NCAA Tournament ... The Badgers, winning their 8th straight game and 18th of their last 19 contests, raised their season record to 33-3—a school record for wins ... Bo Ryan improved to 354-124 in 14 seasons at Wisconsin and 737-227 in 31 years overall.