Ben Brust scored 14 points as the Badgers took out Baylor and advanced to the Elite 8.
(2) UW 69, (6) Baylor 52: Last word
By ZACH HEILPRIN
Player of the game: Frank Kaminsky
The Badgers big man went for a team-high 19 points against Baylor and was a factor early against their zone. UW was able to find the junior inside and he scored six of Wisconsin’s first eight points on the night.
“Frank's had some games like that. We knew he would be critical against that zone,” UW coach Bo Ryan said. “Frank set the tone. The other guys followed along with him. So Frank deserves a lot of credit for being the zone buster.”
The concern going into the game was Baylor’s 7-foot-1 sophomore Isaiah Austin, one of the best shot blockers in college basketball, but he was barely a nuisance on the boards or in swatting shots.
“We were just able to get into the middle of that zone like we said and get some easy baskets,” Kaminsky said. “I think that he got a foul early, so he wasn't trying to pick up another one early in the game. So we were just able to attack him. He was a great shot blocker, but we knew we needed to go at him and try to get him out of the game.
“If they don't have that length in there they won't block as many shots. It's just something we made a point of doing, and went out there and did it.”
Kaminsky was very good on the other end of the floor, blocking a career-high six shots and helping the Badgers outrebound Baylor 39-33.
“He's just a great player,” Baylor forward Cory Jefferson said. “Offensively he has a good skillset, a seven‑footer that can shoot it. He's a multi‑movement around the rim, so when you have a seven‑footer that does that, that's also hard because if you think you're going to give him the first shot it's easy. So you go try to block it, but he uses another move and finishes pretty well. On the defensive end he affected shots.”
In their last three games the Badgers saw their opponent jump out to big leads in the first half. Michigan State was up by 21, American led by seven and Oregon had a 14-point advantage. A quick start against Baylor was key as the Bears had used getting ahead early to put some pressure on Nebraska and Creighton in their first two NCAA tournament games. But on Thursday night, Wisconsin trailed 2-0 and never again. They led by 14 at one point in the opening half and went to the break up 13.
Defense on Heslip
The Baylor senior came into the game with 117 3-pointers on the year and was a major focal point in Wisconsin’s defensive gameplan. The Badgers best 3-point shooter, Ben Brust, was tasked with slowing Heslip down and he did a fantastic job. Heslip was limited to 1 of 6 shooting and was just 1 of 4 from beyond the arc. Overall, Wisconsin held Baylor to just 2 of 15 on 3-pointers after they hit 11 of 18 in their win over Creighton last Sunday.
Free throw shooting
Wisconsin was just 11 of 20 from the line against the Bears. That was after they went 16 of 25 against Oregon last Saturday. In what will likely be a tight game against a stingy Arizona defense in the Elite Eight, the Badgers have to capitalize at the line.
Stat of the game: 21
That’s the number of rebounds the Badgers three starting guards collected against the much longer and taller Baylor players. Josh Gasser (8), Traevon Jackson (7) and Ben Brust (6) were able to track down missed shots from the Bears and limit their second-chance points to seven.
Odds and ends:
Wisconsin is in the Elite 8 for the first time since 2005 and just the third time in school history
The 16 points Baylor had in the first half were their fewest of the year and the 52 points they scored for the game was tied for their fewest this year.
The Badgers shot 51 percent (26 of 51) from the field, marking just the third time in their tournament history that they’ve hit more than half their shots in a game.
In case you missed it:
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was in attendance last night and went into the Badgers locker room after the game.
The second-seeded Badgers will take on the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats on Saturday night (7:49 CT, TBS) for the right to go to the Final Four in North Texas.
The two schools have played twice in the NCAA Tournament, most recently in 2006 when Arizona routed Wisconsin 94-75 in the first round.
However, UW pulled the first of what would turn out to be several upsets on their way to the Final Four in 2000 when, as the No. 8 seed, they took out the No. 1 seeded Wildcats 66-59.
Listen to Zach Heilprin every weekday on “The Jump Around” at ESPNWisconsin.com, and follow him on Twitter: @zachheilprin