It wasn't pretty for three of the last four halves of basketball they played, but the No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers put together an impressive second-half run Friday to pull away from Oklahoma, 69-56, to win the Battle 4 Atlantis championship on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
Wisconsin senior center Frank Kaminsky led the way with 14 of his 17 points in the second half en route to being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
Consecutive wins over unranked yet venerable foes Georgetown and Oklahoma (4-2) pushes Wisconsin's record to 7-0 on the year, with a huge matchup with No. 4 Duke looming next Wednesday as the Badgers return to Madison.
Holding a tenuous 34-33 lead at halftime, Wisconsin immediately seized momentum with a defensive stop and drawn foul to start the second half. On that same possession, Nigel Hayes grabbed an offensive rebound and found Sam Dekker wide open for a three-pointer to spur a 16-2 run. The Badgers wouldn't look back.
Cold shooting and unforced errors kept the score low early. Oklahoma looked to push the tempo early but turned the ball over 13 times in the first half alone. The Badgers played good defense on the Sooners, with the exception of fouling three-point shooters twice, which led to six points on free throws.
After a 10-0 run by Wisconsin, Oklahoma countered with a 9-0 run of its own to retake a 14-12 lead at the under-8 timeout. From there, the action heated up with three straight treys by the Badgers -- though Oklahoma countered with points each time.
Wisconsin was without the services of Kaminsky for nearly the entire half, as he exited the game with two fouls just five-and-a-half minutes into the game and would not return until the second half.
Luckliy for the Badgers, senior Duje Dukan stepped up in a big way, tallying 11 first-half points on 3-of-4 shooting behind the arc in Kaminsky's place.
In addition to Dukan going off, Traevon Jackson bounced back from a subpar game against Georgetown. He put pressure on the Sooner defense with penetration and also found open teammates effectively. He and Bronson Kornig each had five of Wisconsin's 12 assists in the half, to carve out a slim lead.
Jackson would finish with 13 points and eight assists, including two in a row that put Wisconsin up 32-29.
The first half ended with Zak Showalter taking a charge on Jordan Woodard after he raced past UW's bigs for what appeared to be an easy lay up.
The close score at the break gave both sides reason for optimism. While UW weathered the absence of Kaminsky, the Sooners were still in the game despite the turnovers thanks to their dominance on the boards. Led by forwards Ryan Spangler and TaShawn Thomas, the Sooners corralled 21 rebounds before the break. They were also a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line in the opening 20 minutes.
Wisconsin failed to reach the charity stripe until the second half, however.
The Badgers were fortunate when Kaminsky poked the ball loose in the post -- avoiding his third foul -- and then converted a three-point play at the other end to put Wisconsin up 42-33. Once Kaminsky got in a groove, his outside shooting proved to be problematic for the normally stingy Sooner defense.
Defensively, the Badgers continued to make life miserable for Oklahoma juinor guard Buddy Hield. Jackson's strip and score forced an OU timeout with 15:26 left to play, as all the loose balls seemed to bounce Wisconsin's way in the final period.
Hield, a Freeport, Bahamas native, finished 2-of-11 from the field for nine points with four turnovers. Oklahoma finished with 21 turnovers as a team, which Wisconsin turned into 27 points.
In order to survive, though, Wisconsin had to withstand a final run by Oklahoma. Incidentally, the Sooners made their push around the 13-minute mark with Hield on the bench. First, Isaiah Cousins hit back-to-back jumpers by taking advantage of the Badgers sagging on defensive switches. Then Oklahoma sank back-to-back 3-pointers, including a four-point play on another foul. That makes 13 points in two games that the Badgers have given away on fouled three-point shooters, something Bo Ryan will be sure to address this week with Duke coming to town.
However, Oklahoma never could get closer than nine points. Reserve guard Dinjiyl Walker was the only OU player in double figures, with 10 points.
Along with Dukan's 13 points, the Badgers placed five scorers in double figures during the well-rounded effort.
|3-Point FG Percentage||.250||.321|
|Points in the Paint||16||26|
|Points off of Turnovers||9||27|