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Wisconsin falls to Oregon in 72-54 loss in NCAA Tournament

The Badgers’ season ends at the hands of the Ducks

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Oregon vs Wisconsin Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cold shooting offensively for Greg Gard’s team combined with a strong second half for the Pac-12 Tournament champs led to the No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers falling to the No. 12 seed Oregon Ducks in a 72-54 loss on Friday afternoon inside the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.

Oregon limited Wisconsin (23-11) to just 33.3 shooting overall in the game, including a frigid 30.6 percent in the final 20 minutes. That included a 1-for-17 shooting stretch from the 5:43 to the :57 mark in the second half.

The Badgers made just six of 30 from three-point range (20 percent) as well.

In contrast, Oregon (24-12) made nine of its last 11 shots from 7:47 remaining in the contest until the end of the game. Overall, Dana Altman’s squad shot 54.9 percent from the field—including a blistering 70.8 percent (17 of 24) in the second half.

Redshirt senior forward Ethan Happ ended his Badgers’ career tied for a team-high 12 points and eight rebounds, but he also committed five turnovers. Senior forward Khalil Iverson tied Happ for the team lead in points with 12 with most of the contributions coming in the first half while also contributing five rebounds.

No other Badger scored in double figures, though sophomore forward Nate Reuvers tallied nine points and five rebounds and redshirt sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice recorded eight points and five assists. Both combined to shoot 6-of-22 overall, with Trice making just two of 10 from deep.

Four Ducks flew high in northern California on Friday in double figures for scoring, led by Payton Pritchard’s game-high 19 points on 8-of-18 shooting. The junior guard also overcame seven turnovers by dishing out eight assists and grabbing five rebounds.

Freshman Louis King scored 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting—hitting all three three-point attempts—and registered four rebounds. Redshirt senior forward Paul White also recorded 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting with four boards as well. All 14 of those came in the second half in making all five field goal attempts.

A defensive presence, forward Kenny Wooten tallied nine points with six rebounds and four blocks as Oregon outscored Wisconsin 34-24 in the paint.

The teams actually went into their respective locker rooms tied at 25-25 at halftime. Both teams did not shoot the ball particularly well, as UW connected on just 37.5 percent (nine of 24 attempts) of their opportunities. Oregon fared not much better at 40.7 percent (11 of 27).

Pritchard tallied a then game-high 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting with three rebounds and three assists for the Ducks, but Iverson—with help of a thunderous dunk with the shot clock winding down at the end of the half—led the way for the Badgers with nine points and four rebounds.

Both programs struggled to score in the final five minutes of the half, with Wisconsin going through a 5:35 stretch of point-less basketball until Iverson’s dunk with about six seconds remaining until intermission.

After Wisconsin went up 31-28 with 18 minutes to play after a Nate Reuvers three-pointer, Oregon responded on an 18-6 run to give the Ducks a nine-point advantage. Three three-pointers—two from White—helped elevate the Ducks to that 46-37 lead with 12:38 to play.

The Badgers whittled the deficit down to five points twice with under 10 minutes to play at the 7:23 and 6:24 marks. Happ—who scored eight of his 12 in the second half—made a layup with 6:24 remaining cut the lead to 52-47.

However, Oregon ended the final 6:08 of the contest—that stretch perhaps poetic with Madison’s area code—outscoring UW 20-7. King scored eight of those points, and from the 6:08 to 1:03 mark, the Ducks executed an emphatic 18-2 run.

As mentioned earlier, Wisconsin went cold from the field during that crucial timeframe, and combined with the team’s defensive performance, those factors ultimately led to the early exit from the tournament.

Wisconsin is the first Big Ten team to lose in the NCAA Tournament, breaking a 6-0 for the conference that stretched from Thursday to the early part of Friday.