ANAHEIM, Calif. – Ben Brust and his Wisconsin teammates got oodles of open shots while 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 their Badgers realize they dominated Baylor in a 69-52 victory Thursday 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 while Wisconsin romped into the West Regional final, reaching the final eight for the third time in school history.
Brust hit three of the six 3-pointers from 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.
Wisconsin advanced to face top-seeded Arizona in the regional final Saturday at Honda Center. The Badgers haven’t been to the Final Four since retired coach Dick Bennett got them there in 2000.
The Badgers advanced by countering everything the Bears do well. Wisconsin wrecked Baylor’s zone, negated their 3-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.
The Bears needed a late rally just to match their lowest-scoring performance of the season in the final seconds.