Sam Dekker poured in 17 points, and he put the Wisconsin Badgers on his back during a 9-2 stretch late as the Badgers beat eighth-seeded Oregon, 72-65, in a round of 32 matchup in the NCAA tournament.
Wisconsin led wire-to-wire in this one, with the game tied just once after tip. However, it wasnâ€™t as easy as those numbers would suggest. Credit Pac-12 Player of the Year Joseph Young for that, as he poured in a game-high 30 points in the losing effort.
UW countered that one-man effort with four players in double figures. Joining Dekker in double-digits were Frank Kaminsky (16), Nigel Hayes (14) and Bronson Koenig (12).
Last season the Badgers and Ducks played one of the most memorable games in the 2014 NCAA tournament, slugging it out in an offensive affair. Fast forward a year and Wisconsin and Oregon played a much different game, but with a very similar result â€” Wisconsin winning a game that came down to the wire.
With Oregon playing straight zone from the start, it was up to Wisconsinâ€™s big men to make things work. Thatâ€™s exactly what was in the offing, as Nigel Hayes tore apart the Ducks defense in the first half, Kaminsky did the little things well and Dekker was the recipient of some great passing from the rest of his fellow forwards.
Kaminsky ended the day with seven rebounds and two assists to go with his 16 points, while Hayes added five rebounds and three assists in the win.
Last year Oregonâ€™s guard Joseph Young carried the Ducks, this season was more of the same. After staring off by missing his first five shots, Young heated up and coincidentally so did the Ducks.
With Oregon down 11 points, Young finally got on the board and by the time he was done in the half Oregon cut Wisconsinâ€™s lead to just three points, 31-28, at intermission.
It also helped the Ducksâ€™ position that Wisconsin made just two field goals in the final 4:21 of the half as well.
Young ended the first half with 14 points on 5 of 13 shooting from the field. Hayes countered with 12 points on 4 of 6 shooting in the half.
Wisconsin began expanding its lead early in the second half thanks to a fast start, but Oregon wouldnâ€™t go away thanks to some tough defense inside and some timely shooting at the other end of the court.
Hayes and Dekker combined to put the Badgers offense on their backs, as Oregonâ€™s zone locked up any inside-out game and the two facilitated some form of it thanks to Hayesâ€™ slashing ability and Dekkerâ€™s presence outside the arc.
Dekker hit three key three-pointers in the second half, but none were bigger than the one that gave Wisconsin a cushion it wouldnâ€™t give away.
With the Badgers and Ducks tied up at 52-52 with 5:54 to play, the Badgers got a needed bucket from Dekker and then he poured it on for Wisconsin with a step-up triple to make it 58-52.
Up next for the Badgers is a trip to Los Angeles and a Sweet 16 matchup with North Carolina, whom many thought Wisconsin was going to see in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game earlier in the year.
Tip is scheduled for 6:47pm CT on Thursday night.