Frank Kaminsky, Josh Gasser

No. 2 Wisconsin overcomes slow first half to reach Sweet 16


Frank Kaminsky led five scorers in double-figures with 19 points as No. 2 Wisconsin overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to beat No. 7 Oregon, 85-77.

The Ducks were unconscious in the first half, thriving as the Badgers tried to run with them, but Oregon’s shots didn’t fall in the final 20 minutes. They were outscored 48-28 in that second 20 minutes as Wisconsin took advantage of the fact that the Bradley Center was jam-packed with Badger fans.

The win will send Wisconsin to Anaheim for the Sweet 16 where they will play the winner of tomorrow’s game No. 3 Creighton and No. 6 Baylor.

Wisconsin’s Achilles’ heel all season long has been their ability to defend on the perimeter, and that was evident in the first half against the Ducks. Joseph Young, who finished with 29 points, was able to get into the paint at will while Jason Calliste, who added 20 off the bench, made a living at the foul line.

But that defense tightened up significantly down the stretch, and if Bo Ryan can get his boys to play that way out west, they’ll have a chance to make some noise in Anaheim.

The biggest reason why is that they start three guards that, if needed, could seamlessly transition into the point guard role in Traevon Jackson, Ben Brust and Josh Gasser. All three have three-point range, all three hit their free throws and all three can avoid turnovers. As good as Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky are, the reason that those two are able to get the ball in spots where they can be effective is a result of Wisconsin’s back court play.

There hasn’t been much discussion of the Badgers as a contender for the Final Four in the west, but the biggest reason for that was their matchup with Oregon. The Ducks just looked like they would have Wisconsin’s number, and, frankly, they did.

But Wisconsin was able to pull out the win, which means that this is a group that you are going to have to start paying attention to.

Creighton lands 2016 combo guard

Greg McDermott
Associated Press
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Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.

News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.

Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.

Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.

Three-star power forward commits to WVU

Bob Huggins
Associated Press
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Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.

6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.

West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.

Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.