PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) - Frank Kaminsky’s trip to the Bahamas was going from bad to worse.
That is, until the big moments arrived.
Kaminsky scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half on the way to tournament MVP honors, Duje Dukan and Traevon Jackson each added 13 and the second-ranked Badgers beat Oklahoma 69-56 on Friday to win the Battle 4 Atlantis championship.
“I was a little frustrated, to be honest,” said Kaminsky, who was 1 for 8 in Thursday’s semifinals and limited to 6 minutes in the first half Friday because of foul trouble. “But I realized that it was a close game and I needed to be the best player that I can be for our team to win the game.”
Sam Dekker scored 11 and Nigel Hayes finished with 10 for Wisconsin (7-0), which trailed by one late in the first half before a 10-0 run put it on top for good.
Kaminsky grabbed eight rebounds and Jackson had eight assists for the Badgers, who had five players take at least seven shots but no one try more than 12.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate over my career having players who understand the points-per-possession, because we do it every day at practice,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “They understand that there’s not a trip up and down the floor where we’re not trying to do the right thing. And I think our guys stay in the moment at practice, which then kind of goes over into the games.”
Dinjiyl Walker scored 10 for Oklahoma (4-2), which got nine-point efforts from Isaiah Cousins and native Bahamian Buddy Hield. But Cousins and Hield combined to shoot 5 for 22.
“We know so much more about our club right now than we did three days ago, the goods, bads, everything in between,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “That’s the value of playing in a quality tournament like this.”
When it was over, the Badgers put on new championship T-shirts and hats at midcourt, then Dukan carried the trophy back to the locker room - stopping to dance a bit along the way. Meanwhile, the Sooners watched the on-court celebration in silence from one of the baselines, most with their hands on their hips or folded across their chests.
“It’s a fun deal,” Hield said. “We just came up short.”
The Sooners were offensively inconsistent, either sizzling or freezing, and switching gears almost without warning.
- They started 2 for 10.
- Then they went 7 for 7.
- Then they went 2 for 14 over a 10-minute stretch overlapping halftime.
- And then they went 5 for 6, getting within 57-48 on a jumper by Ryan Spangler with 9:56 left.
The margin was still nine 2½ minutes later, when Kaminsky lined up a 3-pointer from the top of the key, watched it fall and strutted back to the other end with an animated, confident look.
“See, that’s out of my control,” said Kaminsky, who added that he didn’t remember his reaction as the room broke into laughter. “Those things kind of just come over me. I kind of black out for a couple seconds and then that happens. I’m not responsible for anything I do after a play like that.”
Oklahoma: The Sooners shot just 29 percent in the second half, 37 percent for the game. … Oklahoma finished with 21 turnovers against Wisconsin’s always-stout defense, and the Badgers turned those into 27 points.
Wisconsin: The Badgers join Harvard in 2011, Duke in 2012 and Villanova last year as Battle 4 Atlantis champions. … Wisconsin now leads the all-time series with the Sooners 4-3.
Ryan told Kaminsky’s father on Thursday, after the Badgers’ center struggled against Georgetown, that he would be better Friday. Prophetic words; no one in the title game had more points or rebounds.
Kruger and Ryan coached together for the U.S. at the 1995 World University Games in Japan, with their roster including Ray Allen, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson - and Jerod Haase, the coach of fellow Battle 4 Atlantis participant Alabama-Birmingham.
Oklahoma: Home against Missouri, Dec. 5.
Wisconsin: Home against Duke, Wednesday.
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