The Oregon Ducks saw their season come to an end on Sunday, but they can hold their heads high knowing they went down swinging against one of then nation's best teams.
Oregon hung with the top-seeded Wisconsin Badgers, but missed too many opportunities in a 72-65 loss in the Round of 32.
Sam Dekker led the offensive attack for the Badgers (33-3) with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including a clutch 3-pointer late in the game. Dekker was one of four Badgers to hit double figures in scoring.
With just under six minutes to go, Dwayne Benjamin drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 52-52. That was when Dekker and Wisconsin took over, ending any hopes of a miracle upset for the Ducks. Dekker's shot sparked a 10-2 run by Wisconsin to finally take control and allow the Badgers to pull away for the win.
The Badgers iced the game at the free-throw line, hitting 10-of-12 shots from the line in the game's final minute. Wisconsin constantly managed to get to the line all night, shooting 21-of-29 (72.4 percent), while the Ducks had just seven free-throw attempts, hitting five of them.
Wisconsin will now advance to the Sweet 16 this week to face North Carolina.
Joseph Young did all he could for the Ducks (26-10), scoring 30 of Oregon's 65 points on 12-of-25 shooting. Jalil Abdul-Bassit was the only other Duck to reach double figures on the night, finishing with 12 points on an uncontested 3-pointer at the buzzer with the game already wrapped up.
Young finished his abbreviated career at Oregon with 1,388 points, the most in school history over the course of two seasons.
Despite being undersized as usual, the Ducks won the battle on the glass, out-rebounding Wisconsin 34-32.
Jordan Bell played a big defensive role for the Ducks, coming up seven rebounds and four blocks. That included one block against Frank Kaminsky at the rim, which doesn't happen all that often, considering Kaminsky's size. Bell also stayed out of foul trouble, something he's had trouble with lately.
Kaminsky had another solid night for the Badgers, scoring 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds. As expected, Kaminsky gave the Ducks trouble all night in the paint, using his 7'0'' from to his advantage.
Oregon cut Wisconsin's lead down to just one point when Jalil Abdul-Bassit drained a 3-pointer, making it 48-47 in favor of the Badgers with 8:04 remaining in the game. The clutch shot came thanks to Elgin Cook saving the ball from going out of bounds off his own miss.
Cook's big save was one of his few highlights from a frustrating night for the junior, who finished with just two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Oregon managed to hang with Wisconsin in the second half when the Badgers scored just four points in a span of almost five minutes. During that stretch, Benjamin scored five straight points to keep it a one-possession game with 13:05 remaining. Benjamin finished the night with eight points and eight rebounds.
Early on, Wisconsin ensured the Ducks weren't getting any easy looks at the basket. Oregon took their time while trying to find good looks, but struggled from the field. During one stretch, Oregon missed nine of 10 shots over a six minute span. Their only field goal came on a big dunk from Dillon Brooks as he posterized Frank Kaminsky.
After falling behind by double digits, Joseph Young helped spark a 10-3 scoring run for the Ducks to bring them back within four points late in the first half. Young scored 14 of Oregon's 19 points to end the first half.
When the Badgers jumped out to a 20-9 lead midway through the first half, Oregon ended the half on a 19-11 run, slowing down the nation's most efficient offense. Through 20 minutes, Wisconsin held a slim 31-28 lead.
Any season-ending loss stings worse than the others, but nobody expected this one to be close. Just like they did all season long, the Ducks defied expectations. In the end, the Ducks came up short against Wisconsin for the second straight year, but you can bet this team will be back next year hungry for another tournament run.