When you shoot 17 percent from the field in the first half, you need a new plan.
Luckily for Wisconsin, sophomore guard Traevon Jackson was the man with a plan at halftime, and the Badgers worked it to perfection in the final 20 minutes.
Behind lights-out shooting from Jackson and former Mundelein standout Ben Brust, Wisconsin shot 60 percent from the field and stormed back from a 20-17 halftime deficit to beat Michigan 68-59 and advance to Saturday’s semifinals where they’ll take on top-seeded Indiana.
“When we got together at halftime, Tre did a good job of figuring out what we needed to do in the second half,” Brust said. “He called some good plays to get established down low. We got some early buckets low and it opened up some stuff from the outside.
“We’ve made shots before, so just hit them when the time comes.”
And that’s just what Brust did. After going 1-for-6 from the field in the first half, the junior guard was a perfect 4-for-4 over the final 20 minutes, including on all three 3-pointers he attempted. Brust finished with 14 points, while Jackson led Wisconsin (22-10) with 16.
“I think we’ve got a really talented group of guys, and when we come together we can beat anybody,” Jackson said.
“They really played a particularly great second half,” Michigan coach John Beilein said of the Badgers. “Their run of 3s there in the second half was a huge part of this game.
“But I was proud of our guys. We fought back and we had some chances to take the game back over and get back in front, we just couldn’t do it.”
Trey Burke led Michigan (26-7) with 19 points.
For Brust, who was born in Arlington Heights, it was extra sweet to perform well in his own backyard.
“For me personally, it was nice to be here in Chicago,” he said. “My parents made the trip here and my high school coaches and some other friends. This arena is awesome. The atmosphere was pretty cool here. If we can keep finding wins, we’re pretty happy to do it anywhere.”
In addition to Brust, former Benet Academy standout Frank Kaminsky, came through big-time for the Badgers with 8 key points in the second half.
“I’m proud of the way Frankie stepped up and made some big plays down the stretch,” Brust said. “I was as excited as anyone on the bench when he got some rebounds, got a block in there and got some big buckets, too. He was great.”
Brust, an honorable mention Big Ten player, knows there will be no rest for the weary after the Badgers’ big win over Michigan, however, because waiting for them Saturday will be a powerhouse Indiana team that put away Illinois earlier on the Friday card.
“They have all the weapons,” Brust said. “We’ll see how we match up with them again on Saturday.”
Sounds like a plan.
Michigan St. 59, Iowa 56:
Adreian Payne had 18 points and 10 rebounds, leading No. 8 Michigan State to a rugged victory over Iowa.
Keith Appling and Gary Harris had 13 points apiece for the Spartans (25-7), who trailed by 12 midway through the second half. They advance to play Ohio State in the next round in a rematch of last season’s tournament championship, won by Michigan State.
Iowa (21-12) was oh so close to an upset victory that could have cemented a spot in the field for next week’s NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Hawkeyes will have to sweat out a nervous Selection Sunday.
Ohio St. 71, Nebraska 50:
DeShaun Thomas and Sam Thompson had 19 points apiece, helping No. 10 Ohio State (24-7) rout Nebraska (15-18) in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals. The Buckeyes turned a close game into a runaway with an impressive 30-5 spree spanning halftime that included a little bit of everything.
ŸAssociated Press contributedCopyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.