The Wisconsin Badgers came in to Friday nightâ€™s NCAA tournament opener with a big target on their back, but they used a massive advantage up front to blow out their first opponent. Wisconsin held off an early charge by Coastal Carolina and ran away with an 86-72 victory.
Frank Kaminsky led the way with yet another double-double, pouring in 27 points and 12 rebounds. However, he wasnâ€™t the only Badger big man to do damage against the smaller Chanticleers. Sam Dekker had 20 points on 8 of 15 shooting and Nigel Hayes added 15 points and eight rebounds to the winning effort.
It was a good thing the trio went off too, as Coastal Carolina shot lights out most of the night, ending the game shooting 48.3 percent from the field. At one point the Chanticleers were 6 of 7 from beyond the arc, but couldnâ€™t keep that blistering pace up all game long, as they hit just one more deep ball all game long.
Wisconsin wasnâ€™t too shabby from the field on the day either, shooting a blistering 54.1 percent and hitting eight three pointers in the first half alone. It was that barrage of three pointers that actually blew the game open after a tight start, as Wisconsin hit seven three pointers after starting 1-5 from deep.
Having woken up, the Badgers ended the half on a 19-4 run and were up 47-32 when the horn sounded to end the half.
Still, it wasnâ€™t just the outside game that made a difference.
The big advantage actually came inside, and it shouldnâ€™t have been surprising given UWâ€™s massive size advantage. Wisconsin worked with what the Chanticleers gave them, opening up a 40-24 advantage in points in the paint and edging them by 11 (36-25) in rebounds as well.
It all added up to the Badgers picking up win No. 32 on the year, setting a school record for wins in a season.
UW will have a chance to extend that record against a very familiar, yet different looking, Oregon team in the round-of-32. The two teams met last season in the same round and played one of the most memorable games of the tournament.
“That game last year was awesome, one of the best games Iâ€™ve ever been a part of,” said Dekker after Fridayâ€™s game. “Happy to get out of that one with a victory. It was a hard-fought game. But theyâ€™re going to come in with the same intensity, theyâ€™re going to play hard, try to hit us in the mouth right away. And they have the talent to do it.”
Tip is set for 6:45pm on Sunday night.