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Badgers power past Ducks

MILWAUKEE — As an ear-splitting roar enveloped the arena, the Wisconsin Badgers pointed to their chests and strutted off the floor as if they had won a prize fight.

In a test of basketball tempos, Wisconsin delivered the knockout punch.

Ben Brust hit a 3-pointer with 1:07 left and the second-seeded Badgers returned to the Sweet 16 after overcoming No. 7 seed Oregon's transition game for a thrilling 85-77 win Saturday night in the NCAA Tournament.

Trailing by 12 at halftime, coach Bo Ryan's veteran squad didn't flinch.

"To be able to handle that smack in the face in the first half and come back and deliver one of our own says a lot about this group," Ryan said.

Brust's clutch 3 from the corner gave the Badgers (28-7) the lead for good before a boisterous pro-Wisconsin crowd at the Bradley Center.

Traevon Jackson followed Brust's shot with three free throws but missed one with 21 seconds left to give the Ducks (24-10) one more chance to tie.

Oregon gave it to Joseph Young, who had made big shots all night and scored 29. But he missed a rushed 3 from the wing, and the Badgers sealed it at the line.

"That shot he took, no one questioned it," Oregon's Richard Amardi said about Young. "It looked good. Unfortunately, it just didn't go in when we wanted it."

The Badgers are in the region semifinals for the first time since 2012. They play Thursday in Anaheim, Calif., against today's Baylor-Creighton winner.

"Once that momentum swung, we were in trouble," Oregon coach Dana Altman said.

Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky had 19 points, Jackson had 16 and Brust had 12, all on 3s.

SAN DIEGO ST. 63, N.D. STATE 44: Xavier Thames sent the Aztecs home. As in, back to the sunshine of California and a spot in the Sweet 16 for the second time in school history.

Thames scored 30, and fourth-seeded San Diego State ended the run of the 12th-seeded Bison in Spokane, Wash.

The Aztecs (31-4) now get to make the short drive up the interstate to Anaheim, where they player in the region semifinals against either No. 1 seed Arizona or eighth-seeded Gonzaga.

Getting to Anaheim became the unspoken goal the second the brackets were released last Sunday.

"Like Coach (Steve Fisher) said, it was a two-game tournament, and we wanted to get two wins," Thames said. "That's what we did."

Thames, who was 9-of-19 from the field, had five assists and ended North Dakota State's comeback hopes with a six-point spurt late in the second half that pushed the Aztecs' lead to 12. He finished one shy of his career high in points.

Dwayne Polee was the only other San Diego State player in double figures with 15, but the Aztecs didn't need a ton of scoring with Thames carrying the load and another defensive performance that suffocated the nation's best-shooting team.

San Diego State last reached the Sweet 16 in 2011, when it lost to Connecticut.

"It was huge doing what we did in the regular season, to earn that No. 4 seed and now have the opportunity to play where we don't have to worry about airplanes," Fisher said.

Kory Brown led the Bison (26-7) with 13 points, but leading scorer Taylor Braun struggled, missing nine straight shots during one stretch.

Badgers power past Ducks 03/22/14 [Last modified: Sunday, March 23, 2014 12:24am]
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