ANAHEIM, Calif. — Maybe you shouldn’t take a team to Roscoe’s during the NCAA tournament.
Second-seeded Wisconsin extended its stay in Anaheim Friday afternoon with a 69-52 win over No. 6 Baylor. The Badgers, a technical, athletic team, excelled in all of the facets that the flashy, free-playing Bears could not.
Wisconsin (29-7) will play in the Elite Eight Saturday at the Honda Center, advancing past the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005 and only the fifth time in program history. Going into that game, Wisconsin is, as usual, all business.
"We stayed disciplined and focused and listened to the scouting report," said forward Sam Dekkar. "The coaches did such a good job of prepping us for this game. They threw a lot at us but we recognized it well."
Baylor (26-12) had less of its signature flash as it fell behind early on. The laid-back team with the neon green uniforms that went to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles upon arriving in California didn’t match up well to the technical proficiency of Wisconsin and fell behind as much as 14 points in the first half.
"That was probably exactly it," said guard Gary Franklin. "They got out to that really early lead. Throughout that whole tournament we haven’t really played from behind so the fact that they played the whole shot clock when they had the ball, it makes it difficult to come back on a team like that."
Prior to the game, Wisconsin emphasized the fact that there were only a few sparse minutes that the Bears trailed during their entire NIT Championship run a year ago. The Badgers were determined to keep them behind and determined to get around their 1-3-1 zone defense.
They sliced up that defense, the one they said they rarely face, shooting 52 percent from the field with big man Frank Kaminsky’s 19 points leading the way.
"We prepare against both (defenses)," said Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. â"We could be playing a team Saturday that’s done nothing but man to man all year, and what happens if they come out in the zone? So we still have to do our reads, do our shot fakes, ball fakes, try to misdirect, work the angles. We always prepare for both."
Baylor’s defense spaced the floor in the zone giving Wisconsin almost too much space to pass the ball and find the precise shot each shooter wanted with ease. When pushed outside, the Badgers answered as they knocked down six threes with three coming from Ben Brust (14 points).
Conversely, Wisconsin’s unheralded defense held the Bears to just 31.6 percent shooting and a season-low score.
"They didn’t help at all. They stood on my hip. I should have been more aggressive," said Baylor guard Brady Heslip. "I should have been more aggressive, but they played a good game. Credit to them."
"I think if we would have made some shots that we’ve been making, then you don’t have to scramble as much on the defensive end, and you don’t have to do things you don’t like to do or want to do which allows them to get even easier baskets," said Baylor head coach Scott Drew.
The Badgers haven’t been to the Final Four since 2000. Possibly on the brink of it, the consummate professionals are trying not to think past the No. 8 just yet.
"That would be a very special thing to do, but we also know that (Coach Ryan) is not going to let us look too far ahead," Brust said. "We also just know that we’re going to get prepared for whoever we play, because in order to get to a point like that, we got to do all the same things we’ve been doing to get to this point, which is focus one at a time for whoever we have, and when that time comes, we’ll handle it."