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Wisconsin wins thriller over Oregon

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MILWAUKEE — In a test of tempos, Wisconsin delivered the knockout punch.

Ben Brust hit a 3-pointer with 1:07 left and the second-seeded Badgers overcame seventh-seeded Oregon’s transition game for a thrilling 85-77 win Saturday night to get into the Sweet 16.

Brust’s clutch 3 from the corner gave the Badgers (28-7) the lead for good in a clash of styles played before a boisterous pro-Wisconsin crowd at the anything-but-neutral Bradley Center.

Traevon Jackson followed with three free throws, but missed one with 21 seconds left to give the Ducks (24-10) one more chance to tie trailing by three.

Oregon gave it to Joseph Young, who had made big shots all night and scored 29 points. But he missed a rushed 3 from the wing, and the Badgers sealed it at the foul line.

The red-clad fans erupted into a deafening roar. Their beloved Badgers are back in the NCAA regional semifinals for the first time since 2012. They will play Baylor or Creighton in Anaheim, Calif., on Thursday.

Frank Kaminsky led the way with 19 points, Jackson finished with 16 and Brust had 12.

Left off-kilter by the Ducks transition game early and trailing by 12 at the half, the Badgers hustled back in the second half to answer the Oregon charge and frustrate their foes in the half court.

That pace played more their liking. Buckets in the lane by Kaminsky, a jump-shooting 7-footer, and coach Bo Ryan’s gritty guards set the tone inside, and later helped open up the perimeter.

As had often happened during the night, Young had an answer. His 3 from the wing with 2:50 left to give Oregon a 75-74 lead.

The Badgers hustled for offensive rebounds on their next possession. Off a timeout, Ryan re-inserted Brust, who was saddled with four fouls.

The senior delivered in a huge spot. Young couldn’t deliver one last time.

Jason Calliste had 20 points for Oregon.

SAN DIEGO ST. 63, N. DAKOTA ST. 44

Xavier Thames dropped in 3s from deep, finessed floaters in the lane and carried San Diego State the way he did all season as the Mountain West player of the year.

Thames would not let North Dakota State become this year’s version of Florida Gulf Coast by sending the Aztecs home in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

Thames scored 30 points, and fourth-seeded San Diego State reached the round of 16 for the second time in school history, ending the run of No. 12 seed North Dakota State at Spokane, Wash.

The Aztecs (31-4) now get to make the short drive up the interstate to Anaheim, Calif., where they will face either No. 1 seed Arizona or eighth-seeded Gonzaga in the West Regional semifinals on Thursday.

Thames, who was 9 of 19 from the field, had five assists and ended the comeback hopes of the Bison with a six-point spurt late in the second half that pushed the Aztecs’ lead to 12. He finished one shy of his career-high in points.

Dwayne Polee II was the only other San Diego State player in double figures with 15, but the Aztecs didn’t need a ton of scoring with Thames carrying the load and another defensive performance that suffocated the best shooting team in the country.

Kory Brown led the Bison (26-7) with 13 points, but it was the struggles of leading scorer Taylor Braun that had North Dakota State trying to play catch up. Braun missed nine straight shots during one stretch. Sometimes he was guarded by Thames. Other times it was J.J. O’Brien taking a turn on the Summit League player of the year.

Braun finished 2-of-14 shooting and just seven points. North Dakota State shot 50.9 percent for the season to lead the country, but could only make 31.9 percent against the Aztecs. The 44 points were a season-low for the Bison, the previous low being 56 in a win over Western Illinois.

North Dakota State was one of three No. 12 seeds to help create another manic March by upsetting No. 5 seed Oklahoma 80-75 in overtime in the second round on Thursday.

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