Unlike last week at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, Wisconsin didn't have 18,000 red-clad backers roaring in support every move made by Bo Ryan's players. UW, which had won big games away from home all season, didn't need the home-court feel. The No. 2-seeded Badgers turned the Honda Center into their home floor and made sixth-seeded Baylor look like an NIT team with perhaps their most impressive all-around performance of the season. The result was a 69-52 victory Thursday night that sent UW to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005. Ryan, whose record is now 703-223, is again one victory from his first Final Four at UW. UW (29-7) faces either top-seeded Arizona (32-4) or No. 4-seeded San Diego State (3-14) Saturday for a berth in the Final Four. The starting time is to be determined. Baylor, which reached the Elite Eight in 2010 and 2012, finished 26-12. "Well, I think over 700 wins speaks for itself," Baylor coach Scott Drew said before the game in talking about Ryan's longevity. "Thirteen straight NCAA tournament appearances at Wisconsin speaks for itself. "Whenever I hear the word Wisconsin basketball — I'm good friends with Tony Bennett and Dick Bennett — I think it's one of those elite programs and you think of it as a team each and every year that's competing for Final Fours and National Championship.... "I understand what great basketball they've had and what a great job coach Ryan has done." Ryan and his staff had UW well-schooled to take advantage of Baylor's weaknesses and UW improved to 15-5 away from home this season, including 7-1 in neutral site games. The Badgers dissected Baylor's zone from the start and Drew eventually surrendered and went to a man-to-man defense in the second half. Led by junior center Frank Kaminsky, UW attacked the lane at will. Kaminsky scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the first half to help UW build a 29-16 lead. Kaminsky added six blocks and four rebounds and outplayed Baylor center Isaiah Austin. Senior guard Ben Brust hit 3 of 5 three-pointers and added 14 points; freshman Nigel Hayes added 10 points and six rebounds as UW scored 36 points in the paint and hit 26 of 51 field-goal attempts (51%). Guard Traevon Jackson contributed seven points, seven rebounds and five assists and Sam Dekker added seven points. "You look at our roster, down the line every guy that's out there on the floor is a threat to dribble, pass and shoot," Brust said before the game. "So that's nice to have out there and to know that when you're going through warm-ups, if you look around, you never know which guy's day it could be." Cory Jefferson scored 15 points and Austin and guard Kenny Chery added 12 apiece for Baylor. Guard Brady Heslip, shooting 45.7% from three-point range and averaging 11.9 points per game, hit 1 of 4 three-pointers and 1 of 6 shots overall. He finished with three points. Baylor's active zone defense smothered Nebraska and Creighton as those teams combined to average 57.5 points per game, shoot 9-of-45 shooting from three-point range (20%) and 45-of-109 overall (41.2%). The Badgers, who worked hard against the zone for three days, hit 2 of 3 three-pointers and 8 of 15 shots overall in the first 10:08 to take an 18-8 lead. Kaminsky led the way by hitting 4 of 7 shots, all in the lane, for eight points as UW attacked Baylor's zone with ball-fakes, shot-fakes and crisp passing. Baylor, which raced to a 26-9 lead over No. 3- seeded Creighton in the third round, struggled to find the range against UW's tight defense. The Bears, who shot 52.8% in their two tournament games, hit just 3 of their first 13 shots in falling behind by 10. After Jefferson hit a jumper and Royce O'Neal hit 1 of 2 free-throw attempts to cut the deficit to 18-11, UW went on a 7-0 run to push the lead to 25-11 with 3:39 left. "They're a great team," Heslip said before the game. "They're gritty. They play together. They've got a bunch of high IQ basketball players."
Wisconsin mauls Baylor 69-52 to advance to Elite Eight
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Mar 28