OMAHA, Neb. — Sam Dekker scored 17 points and led four Wisconsin players in double digits, and the No. 1-seeded Badgers are headed back to the Sweet 16 after defeating Oregon 72-65 in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.
The Badgers (33-3) beat the Ducks (26-10) in the round of 32 for the second straight year and will go to Los Angeles to play fourth-seeded North Carolina in the Sweet 16 on Thursday. It’s the fourth time in five years the Badgers made the regional semifinals.
Wisconsin played with the lead all game until Dwayne Benjamin tied it at 52 with a high-arcing 3-pointer from in front of his bench with 5:27 left. The Badgers took the lead right back, though, with Dekker’s reverse layup and 3-pointer to make it 58-52.
Joseph Young, who scored 27 points in a win over Oklahoma State on Friday, had 30 against the Badgers.
Wisconsin got 16 points from Frank Kaminsky, 14 from Nigel Hayes and 12 from Bronson Koenig.
Jalil Abdulu-Bassit had 12 points for the Ducks, who were trying to get to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years.
The size advantage that Wisconsin was supposed to enjoy against Oregon wasn’t much of an advantage at all.
Oregon outrebounded the Badgers 34-32, outscored them 30-24 in the lane and had four blocks to Wisconsin’s three. The Ducks came back from an 11-point deficit to hang around almost to the end.
This game was much different than the one these two teams played a year ago. Wisconsin had to erase a double-digit lead in the second half to get past the Ducks. The Badgers never trailed this time.
Kaminsky, who had 27 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Coastal Carolina on Friday, was quiet for long stretches Sunday. But he had more help around him than Young did.
The 7-foot Kaminsky went right at the basket on the first possession of the game. But as the half went on, the Ducks, who have only one starter taller than 6-6, were able to neutralize Kaminsky and the 6-9 Dekker.
Hayes picked up the slack, scoring 12 points in the first half. In a two-minute span he made a 3-pointer, a mid-range jumper and two free throws after a steal.
But the Badgers had trouble dealing with Oregon’s athleticism. Exhibit A: freshman Dillon Brooks going baseline and dunking over Kaminsky. Then there was Jordan Bell swatting away two of Kaminsky’s shots and one of Dekker’s before half.
Oregon, which shot 55 percent against Oklahoma State on Friday, shot 44.1 percent and needed some time to get its offense going. Young had a couple shots rim out and missed his first five, and Elijah Cook couldn’t finish what should have been an easy dunk off a Young lob.
Once Young started connecting, the Ducks were right back in it. The Pac-12 player of the year scored six of his team’s last nine points of the half to pull the Ducks within 31-28 at half.
Oregon: Joseph Young tied Terrell Brandon for most points in a season by an Oregon player, with 745… Jordan Bell finished the season with a school-record 94 blocks. … Oregon lost for the first time when shooting a higher percentage than its opponent.
Wisconsin: Reserve guard Zak Showalter, who averages 2 points a game, made a 3-pointer and reverse layup on consecutive possessions to extend the Badgers’ three-point lead to 45-37 in the middle of the second half. … Josh Gasser has played in a school-record 13 NCAA tournament games.
Oregon’s season ends one win short of the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years.
Wisconsin plays North Carolina in the West Region semifinals on Thursday.