Wisconsin puts Baylor away to take one step closer to Final Four
Badgers slice up Baylor’s zone defense, and claim down on the Bears offense as well
The Associated Press
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ben Brust and his Wisconsin teammates got oodles of open shots while they sliced and diced Baylor’s vaunted zone defense. And when the Bears had the ball, 7-foot Frank Kaminsky always seemed to be right in their way.
Brust, Kaminsky and the Badgers realize they dominated Baylor in a 69-52 victory Thursday night because of a coach who always puts them in the right spots.
Bo Ryan has never been to the Final Four, but the Badgers are thrilled to put him on the brink.
“That would be a very special thing to do, but we also know that he’s not going to let us look too far ahead,” said Brust, who had 14 points. “When that time comes, we’ll handle it. I’d definitely like to do that for him.”
Kaminsky scored 19 points and blocked six shots while Wisconsin romped into the West Regional final, reaching the final eight for the third time in school history. The Badgers will play Arizona on Saturday.
Brust hit three of the six three-pointers for the second-seeded Badgers (29-7), who jumped to a 14-point lead in the first half and never let up on the overmatched Bears (26-12).
Kaminsky and his disciplined teammates shredded the Baylor zone that played so well in the first two games. Wisconsin also methodically shut down Baylor’s talented offense while moving into its second regional final in 13 years under Ryan, who has seen just about everything except the Final Four in a 700-victory coaching career.
The Badgers haven’t been to the Final Four since retired coach Dick Bennett got them there in 2000.
The Badgers advanced by countering everything the Bears do well. Wisconsin wrecked Baylor’s zone, negated their three-point shooting acumen with perimeter defense, kept the tempo at the Badgers’ preferred speed and even held a 39-33 rebounding edge on Baylor, one of the nation’s top rebounding teams.
Ryan put on a bit of a coaching clinic.
The Wisconsin folk hero has led the Badgers to an NCAA tournament berths in each of his 13 seasons, but only got this close to the Final Four in 2005.
“We get 40 more minutes, and I’m awfully proud of them,” Ryan said.
Kaminsky added another remarkable performance to his junior season with the Badgers, racking up 10 points and four blocked shots while Wisconsin took a 29-16 lead into halftime.