Holding their ground
OMAHA, Neb. — Oregon freshmen Jordan Bell and Dillon Brooks were looking forward to facing Wisconsin’s bigger front line.
When coach Dana Altman told Brooks on Saturday he would match up against Wisconsin’s 7-foot senior Frank Kaminsky, Brooks smiled.
“I was ecstatic to guard him,” Brooks said. “He’s likely the player of the year so I wanted the challenge.”
The top-seeded Badgers were a challenge Bell welcomed as well.
“I love this kind of game playing against people that are supposed to be better than us,” Bell said. “That is when you show who is a basketball player and I felt like we all did that.”
The Ducks stayed close to the Badgers for most of the game before Wisconsin pulled away late for a 72-65 win against Oregon in the third round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday night at CenturyLink Center.
Many people predicted Wisconsin would beat up the Ducks inside, but the 6-9 Bell and 6-6 Brooks held their ground against Kaminsky, 6-9 Sam Dekker and 6-8 Nigel Hayes. Oregon had 34 rebounds compared to 32 for Wisconsin and 30 points in the paint to the Badgers’ 24.
“Frank and Dekker and Hayes are really good players, but we gave them all we can,” Brooks said.
Brooks had four points and four rebounds while spending much of the night guarding Kaminsky, who finished below his season averages with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Bell finished with eight points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.
“Those guys did a great job,” Altman said. “They fought hard to beat them on the boards and did not give up a lot of easy baskets.”
Kaminsky said the Ducks did what he expected.
“I knew they were going to throw a lot of different things at us,” he said “We knew they were going to play in a matchup zone. We knew they were going to throw double teams and triple teams and pressure us up and down the court because that is their style.”
Kaminsky, who had 19 points against Oregon last year in the NCAA Tournament, was 6-for-13 from the field.
“I thought our guys really slid their feet, did a pretty good job of taking away easy baskets from him,” Altman said. “I thought our defensive effort was pretty good.”
While disappointed in defeat, Bell said he liked matching up against a bigger opponent.
“I just had a lot of fun out there,” Bell said. “I enjoyed the whole thing. It was an exciting game.”