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A bit slow into their 2015 NCAA tournament stride, the top-seeded Wisconsin Badgers peaked late and never saw much of a test past halftime in a 86-72 win over pesky No. 16 Coastal Carolina.
Star center Frank Kaminsky unsurprisingly led all scorers with 27 points and 12 rebounds, leading the charge against a hot-shooting Chanticleers group that proved tough to put away. The official NCAA March Madness Twitter account highlighted the Badgers’ win:
With most of the crew back from a near-win last year against No. 1 Virginia, Coastal Carolina threatened to give the Badgers a similar test when it hit five of six three-pointers in the first half.
But Wisconsin pushed its lead just before the break, and the Chanticleers couldn’t repeat their early shooting success to pose any serious threat late.
Warren Gillis led Coastal with 22 points, while Elijah Wilson added 20 off the bench, but their squad moved away from the long ball in the second half while allowing a 54.1 percent shooting clip from the Badgers.
Winners of 17 of their last 18, the Badgers made school history with Friday’s win, per Wisconsin State Journal‘s Jim Polzin:
Big Ten Network added more on Wisconsin’s history-making:
Wisconsin moves forward to face Oregon next after the Ducks’ win over Oklahoma, and the Badgers’ struggles against Coastal’s shooting left Sports Illustrated‘s Brian Hamilton wondering if Oregon would give them a fight:
The Chanticleers came strong out of the gates in taking a 5-4 lead and only trailed by four with six minutes left in the first frame. While it’s hard to say Wisconsin sputtered from the opening tip, Coastal was giving the Badgers an early gut punch, per CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli:
After leading just 28-24, the Badgers scored 19 of the final 27 points of the half to take a 15-point lead into the locker room off Kaminsky’s three just before the buzzer.
The Chanticleers shot over 50 percent in the first half, but it didn’t matter as they faced a sizable deficit.
The senior center opened the second half just as he ended the first—by canning a long ball. Although his Badgers allowed Coastal to pull to within 12 early in the second half, that’s as close as the Chanticleers would get after Wisconsin scored the next nine points.
As Kaminsky got hotter and hotter, Coastal fans were amazed to see him miss one, per Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Jeff Potrykus:
Wisconsin’s second-half run allowed it to begin resting starters following the four-minute media timeout, as 247Sports’ Evan Flood noted:
Coastal’s early three-point shooting prowess was a big equalizer, but the Chanticleers moved away from the long ball in the second half, and it cost them.
While there were a handful of defensive lapses early on that allowed Coastal Carolina to stay in it, Wisconsin can’t feel too discouraged about its performance.
Although they may have been the least convincing of the top seeds, the Badgers didn’t show anything to indicate they are incapable of returning to the Final Four.
Meanwhile, the Chanticleers will be downtrodden after coming up short as a No. 16 seed for the second straight year. But CBS Sports’ Seth Davis sees Coastal as an example that the No. 16 over No. 1 may eventually happen:
An intriguing third-round matchup awaits Wisconsin, after Oregon outshot Oklahoma State to victory in Omaha’s early-evening affair. The Badgers’ ability to stretch the floor frustrates most opponents, but the Ducks shoot a strong 36 percent from deep as a unit.
If the Badgers are able to utilize the ever-present mismatch of Kaminsky and get consistent contributions elsewhere like they did Friday, though, there’s nothing stopping Wisconsin from another trip to the Sweet 16.