OMAHA, Neb. -- Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, no No. 16 seed has knocked off a top seed in the round of 64. Friday night, Wisconsin made sure Coastal Carolina didn't become the first, relying on its distinct size advantage for an 86-72 win at CenturyLink Center.
The Chanticleers (24-10) kept things close early on behind eight quick points from senior guard Josh Cameron, a Racine, Wis., native, putting the Badgers into an 8-7 deficit just over five minutes in. While senior forward Frank Kaminsky ended up giving UW the lead for good at the other end with two of his game-high 27 points, Wisconsin didn't push the lead beyond single digits until the latter stages of the first half.
"They just kept making shots," UW senior guard Josh Gasser said. "They were tough shots and we didn't do a good job of taking them out of their rhythm, but that's what makes them a good team."
While Coastal Carolina was able to stay within shouting distance in the first half by shooting 52 percent from the field and hitting five of six attempts from three-point range, Wisconsin's size was ultimately too much to handle. Although the Badgers settled for jump shots early, the Chanticleers had no answer for the frontcourt trio of Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes, which scored 32 of Wisconsin's first 38 points and eventually finished with 62 points total.
"They really hurt us on the offensive glass," Coastal Carolina coach Cliff Ellis said. "They take you to the rack. They don't have any flaws offensively; they really don't."
Hayes in particular dominated the offensive glass in the early going. After matching his career high with 25 points in Sunday's Big Ten tournament win over Michigan State, Hayes ran off 13 points in the first half on Friday (he finished with 15) to go along with eight rebounds (seven on the offensive glass).
Despite facing a 15-point deficit, Coastal Carolina came out firing yet again in the second half and scored four quick points to get within 11. Wisconsin answered with a three-point jumper from Kaminsky, but Coastal Carolina was able to again get within 12 points heading through the 15-minute mark.
"We knew we were going to have a test because of how skilled they are offensively," Dekker said. "I thought we came out with a good mindset, but they just hit some tough shots in that first half. But then they never went away."
Eventually the Badgers pulled away, extending theor lead to 20 points at the midway point of the second half, and then to as much as 24.
Wisconsin's size at all five positions was just too much for Coastal Carolina to handle. The Badgers finished with a 40-24 advantage in the paint and put down 14 second-chance points off 12 offensive rebounds. That interior dominance was enough to keep the Chanticleers at bay despite a 22-point effort from senior Warren Gillis and a 48-percent shooting night as a team.
"They threw different stuff at us defensively -- man, zone, full-court press, trapping stuff -- but we were ready and prepared for all of it," Gasser said. "The thing that stayed consistent for us was pounding the ball inside to Frank, Sam and Nigel -- those guys who had the size advantage -- and they were able to make plays for us."
Although the Badgers were able to advance out of the second round without a ton of trouble, the effort on both ends of the floor was sloppy at times. Wisconsin committed nine turnovers and Coastal Carolina turned them into 12 points.
"There were times when we were very efficient and times where we weren't taking very good shots," Dekker said. "Overall, I think it was a pretty efficient offensive night, but we can do better, and we're looking forward to doing better on Sunday."
The Badgers will need to do better against an Oregon team that gave them everything they could handle at last year's round of 32 in Milwaukee. This time, Wisconsin will not have the home-court advantage it had at the Bradley Center and Oregon will have Pac-12 Player of the Year Joseph Young, who scored a game-high 29 points in last season's matchup and has stepped up his game this season to lead a revamped roster under head coach Dana Altman.
"It's going to be a battle again, just like last year," Kaminsky said. "Hopefully we'll play well and hopefully we'll come out on top."
Wisconsin and Oregon will be the second game of the evening Sunday in Omaha, with the first set to tip at 4:15 p.m. CT between Kansas and Wichita State. Tip for the Badgers and Ducks figures to be about 6:50 p.m.