- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 26, 2005

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Wisconsin Badgers waited for their shots to start falling, waited for something to work on defense. And after playing what might be their worst half of basketball all season, they couldn’t wait any more.

Even before coach Bo Ryan entered the locker room for some halftime adjustments ” or maybe just a chewing out — the players discussed their problems among themselves. Then Wisconsin scored 26 of the first 33 points in the second to beat N.C. State 65-56 and earn a berth in the Syracuse bracket final of the NCAA tournament.

“At halftime, guys got after each other a little bit. Guys knew what they had to do,” said guard Sharif Chambliss, who had one point in the first. “The first half was probably one of our worst halves all year. The second half, we knew what we had to do.”

Alando Tucker scored 22 points, getting eight in a row during a 13-0 second-half run that turned a 37-34 deficit into a 10-point lead. Mike Wilkinson scored 17, the final two on a breakaway dunk with 20 seconds left that prompted the rest of the Badgers to leap for joy on the court.

Sixth-seeded Wisconsin (25-8) will play North Carolina for a berth in the Final Four.

“There wasn’t much that had to be said. We knew we were a better team than them,” forward Zach Morley said. “We finally realized what we had to do to be successful. We just slowed down and worked the ball inside and got some good shots.”

Engin Atsur scored 16 and Julius Hodge had 14 on 4-for-16 shooting for N.C. State (21-14). The Wolfpack shot 45 percent in the first half to 32 percent in the second, making their first six 3-pointers before hitting just three of the next 16 attempts.

“It was a tale of two halves,” N.C. State coach Herb Sendek said. “We were much better in the first than in the second.”

But the difference was even more drastic for Wisconsin.

The Badgers went from shooting 39 percent in the first to 58 percent in the second. They missed all three 3-pointers in the first and hit 4-of-7 in the second. And they had 11 turnovers in the first, with zero assists; they had seven and seven in the second.

Ryan said he’d never seen anything like it.

“Not even in my first year coaching junior high school when I got out of the army — and that was a struggle,” he said. “We hung around. We just hung around. Fortunately, halftime came and we regrouped. I’m extremely proud of our guys that they didn’t cave in.”

Ryan improved to 7-0 against lower seeds in the NCAA tournament. The 10th-seeded Wolfpack had been the lowest remaining seed.

“We played until we were absolutely exhausted,” Hodge said. “We gave it our all. We have no reason to hang our heads.”

Tucker scored eight of just 21 Wisconsin points in the first half as the Badgers fell behind by 10 before Chambliss made one of two free throws with 0.7 seconds left. Those were the first points by a Badgers guard in the game.

It all changed quickly in the second.

Clayton Hanson opened with a 3-pointer and then, after Atsur’s layup, Chambliss made a 3. Tucker hit a driving layup to make it 32-29 with 16:46 to play; Hodge scored for N.C. State before Hanson made a 3 and Wilkinson banked one in to tie it 34-all with 14:51 left.

The Wolfpack led 37-34 when Tucker made another layup. Then Chambliss hit a 3 from the top of the key to give the Badgers the lead for good, and Tucker scored the next eight points to make it 47-37 with 8:41 left.

N.C. State came within five points, 59-54, with the ball, but couldn’t get closer.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide