MILWAUKEE (AP) Hometown kid on one side, the in-state favorites on the other.
Toss in a contrast in styles, and up-tempo Oregon against efficient Wisconsin should make for an intriguing NCAA tournament matchup in Milwaukee.
The seventh-seeded Ducks and second-seeded Badgers each pulled away for double-digit victories Thursday to advance to a West Region third-round game. Their Saturday night meeting figures to be much closer.
”We have to face a team that gets it up and down. They can score in half court, they can score in full court,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said Friday. ”They put a lot of pressure on you.”
Expect the BMO Harris Bradley Center stands to be filled with Wisconsin red again. After the home campus in Madison, Milwaukee might be the next biggest epicenter of Badgers backers.
But at least one Duck might draw more support than usual on the road.
Sophomore Elgin Cook calls Milwaukee home – was even the City Conference Player of the Year in 2010. His father is former NBA All-Star Alvin Robertson, who played with the Bucks in the early 1990s in the same arena in which Cook will take the floor against Wisconsin.
Imagine how thrilled his friends in the stands must have been when Cook scored 23 points in 23 minutes off the bench in the Ducks’ 87-68 victory over BYU in the second round Thursday.
”When you’ve still got your friends and family in the crowd, you’re still going to play inspired basketball when you’re in your hometown,” guard Johnathan Loyd said.
Cook has been getting good-natured grief all week from his teammates because of the media attention for his connections to Milwaukee. He was peppered with more questions Friday about how his father influenced his style of play. Robertson was the 1986 NBA Defensive Player of the Year while with San Antonio.
”I’m just trying to mold my game around that and become the best player I can become,” he said.
The soft-spoken forward seems to want to make his statements on the court.
Five things to watch in a matchup between power-conference programs:
WELCOME HOME: Cook, a sophomore and junior college transfer, didn’t appear to be high on the Badgers’ recruiting wish list when he was in high school, and vice versa.
No bulletin board material here, though.
”I just thought that Wisconsin was a real solid basketball team, real fundamental, and they’re a good team,” Cook said about his impressions of the Badgers in high school.
Wisconsin assistant coach Gary Close recalled Cook in high school as ”always a terrific athlete … and now he is doing things from a skills standpoint that are good. He’s a very, very important part of their team – rebounding, driving, knocking some shots down, blocking shots.”
TEMPO TIME: First, the Badgers thumped methodical American and its Princeton-style offense 75-35 on Thursday. Now they’re preparing for something completely different. Oregon likes to play in transition, and eight Ducks were on the floor for at least 11 minutes in the victory over BYU.
”Has anybody ever faced two more opposite teams in back-to-back games in the NCAA tournament?” Ryan asked reporters.
TEMPO TIMES TWO: The tempo issue goes both ways. After contending with BYU’s zone, Oregon now must face a Badgers team that just held American to 34 percent shooting and 13 second-half points.
”Bo has always grinded it out, pick the heck out of you,” Ducks coach Dana Altman said. ”It’s a physical game.”
Loyd said he will try to speed up the Badgers and defend point guard Traevon Jackson the length of the court, ”make him show his handles off and then try to speed them as much as we can.”
STICK TO IT: Staying disciplined helped Wisconsin get over a first-half rut against American. They’re sticking to that plan on Saturday.
The balanced Badgers have shown they can score in transition, too, though that’s not their main philosophy.
”What we want to do is get a good shot. … Sometimes it may happen early and sometimes it doesn’t,” Close said. Oregon ”preys on teams when (the opponent takes) bad shots early, then they can really run.”
OUTPOST: On Thursday, Oregon had 36 points in the paint, an area that has given Wisconsin problems defensively at times this season. Forward Nigel Hayes said the Ducks like to drive the lane, and it’s incumbent on Wisconsin to not let them establish a post presence.
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