North Carolina and Wisconsin rescued us after the thud that was Wichita State and Notre Dame. The Tar Heels were in control for 75 percent of this game and were imposing their own pace on the game, until Wisconsin made its move late in the second half to win, 79-72.
In the first half, North Carolina’s defense held Big Ten Conference Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky to just four points, but behind Sam Dekker’s 15 points and last second tip-in the Badgers were down just 33-31 at the half. After their second half run, the Badgers would not relinquish their lead. North Carolina’s Marcus Paige did his best to keep it close, getting the Heels within one with 50 seconds to go on a deep three, but two missed free throws by Isaiah Hicks with the Heels down three and 33 seconds to go sent Roy Williams’ team back to Chapel Hill for the Spring.
Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker went off. Dekker scored 15 in the first half, keeping the Badgers within a possession going into halftime. Dekker finished with 23 points after shooting 10 of 15 from the floor. Dekker also grabbed ten rebounds, three of which were offensive. Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky came back from a sluggish first half to take over in the second, finishing with 19 points and 8 rebounds.
With 7:09 left in the second half, the Heels were up 60-56 after two free throws from Nate Britt. The ensuing Badger possession, Kaminsky cut the lead to 60-59 after a bomb from deep. After a Britt missed jumped, the Badgers went the other way and Zak Showalter gave Wisconsin the one point lead at 61-60 that they would not relinquish on a beautiful reverse layup with 6:10 left to go. The back to back Badger buckets would be the beginning on a 9-0 run that put the boys from Madison on top for good.
Strange, But True
North Carolina shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half. Under Roy Williams, the Tar Heels are 150-2 when shooting 50 percent or better from the floor. Ultimately, the Badgers were able to keep the Tar Heels in check during the second half, bringing their shooting percentage for the game to just 46.4 percent.
Wisconsin plays the winner between tonight’s midnight game of Arizona and Xavier on Saturday. Time is TBD. North Carolina finishes their 2015 campaign with a record of 26-12.