ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ben Brust and his Wisconsin teammates got oodles of open shots as they sliced and diced Baylor’s vaunted zone defense. When the Bears had the ball, 7-foot Frank Kaminsky always seemed to be right in their way.
Brust, Kaminsky and the Badgers realize they dominated Baylor in a 69-52 victory last night because of a coach who always puts them in the right spots.
Bo Ryan has never been to college basketball’s final weekend, but the Badgers are thrilled to put him on the brink.
“That would be a very special thing to do, but we also know that he’s not going to let us look too far ahead,” said Brust, who scored 14 points. “When that time comes, we’ll handle it. I’d definitely like to do that for him.”
Kaminsky scored 19 points and blocked six shots, and Wisconsin romped into the West Regional final.
Brust hit three of the six three-pointers made by the second-seeded Badgers (29-7), who jumped to a 14-point lead in the first half and never let up on the overmatched Bears (26-12).
Kaminsky and his disciplined teammates shredded the Baylor zone that played so well in the first two games. Wisconsin also methodically shut down Baylor’s talented offense while moving into its second regional final in 13 years under Ryan, who has seen just about everything except the Final Four in a 700-win coaching career.
“I’d be honored to be a part of that,” Kaminsky said.
The Badgers advanced by countering everything the Bears do well. Wisconsin wrecked Baylor’s zone, negated its three-point shooting acumen with perimeter defense, kept the tempo at the Badgers’ preferred speed and even held a 39-33 rebounding edge on Baylor, one of the nation’s top rebounding teams.
Ryan put on a bit of a coaching clinic, but that’s nothing new. The Wisconsin folk hero has led the Badgers to the NCAA tournament in each of his 13 seasons, but got this close to the Final Four only in 2005.
“We get 40 more minutes, and I’m awfully proud of them,” Ryan said.
Kaminsky added another remarkable performance to his junior season with the Badgers, racking up 10 points and four blocked shots while Wisconsin took a 29-16 lead into halftime. Wisconsin held Baylor to a season low in first-half points.
Cory Jefferson scored 15 points for the sixth-seeded Bears in their third Sweet 16 trip in five years.
Isaiah Austin and Kenny Chery scored 12 points apiece for Baylor.
The Bears needed a late rally just to match their lowest-scoring performance of the season.
“Wisconsin really played a great game, and we did a very poor job in making things tough,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “They’re extremely hard to pressure and rattle. … Once we got behind, we had to do some things we wished we didn’t have to do.”
Baylor’s flexible zone defense caused numerous problems for Nebraska and Creighton in the Bears’ victories last week. With a few days to prepare, Ryan clearly figured out exactly how to attack it.
The Badgers got multiple open looks on nearly every possession in the first half, moving the ball around the perimeter for open three-point attempts or getting it down low to Kaminsky, who scored eight of Wisconsin’s first 10 points. Brust hit two three-pointers in the first half, and only a few open misses prevented Wisconsin from blowing it open early.