Ugly Badgers too pretty for LSU

8th seed allows 14 points in first half, romps, 61-48


Ncaa Tournament

March 24, 2000|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Wisconsin doesn't mind anyone saying it wins ugly, especially at this time of the year.

The eighth-seeded Badgers continued their defensive-minded run through the NCAA tournament last night, taking out a higher seed for the second straight game and making their Sweet 16 debut a rousing, if not quite artistic, success.

With a bruising 61-48 victory over fourth-seeded LSU (28-6) in last night's second West Regional semifinal here at The Pit, Wisconsin (21-13) advanced to tomorrow's final against Big Ten rival Purdue.

"We're very pleased with the effort," said Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett. "Our ability to get really hard play from all five guys on the floor was significant. I attribute that to the Big Ten. Every game is like that."

The Badgers proved too physical for the Tigers, in particular Stromile Swift. After scoring the game's first points on a three-point shot, the Southeastern Conference's co-Player of the Year was held without a basket until there was a little over a minute left and the outcome was long decided.

"Their defense really took away the things we like to do," said LSU center Jabari Swift, who like Swift finished with 12 points.

Wisconsin held LSU to season lows for points, field goals (17), free-throw attempts (12) and assists (6). The Tigers also committed 23 turnovers, two shy of their season high. The defeat ended a turnaround season for the Tigers, who had spent the past two years on NCAA probation while winning a total of 21 games.

Junior guard Jon Bryant led the Badgers with 16 points. But Wisconsin got contributions from all 11 players Bennett used, especially on defense.

"That was the difference," said Bennett. "We weren't sharp running things, but we made them earn everything they got."

The first half, played to Wisconsin's liking, set the tone for the rest of the night. More bodies hit the floor than balls found the net.

The Badgers wound up scoring 11 straight points to take a 22-14 lead into their locker room at halftime.

LSU, which came into the game averaging 76.8 points a game, managed just 15 shots in the first half, making five.

"I knew we were a better team than we showed," said Swift. "We didn't play LSU basketball in the first half."

Or in the second, for that matter.

Trailing 26-18, the Tigers watched as Bryant made another three and then scored off a steal. The Badgers stretched their lead to 36-18 on a three by senior Duany Duany and eventually to 47-29.

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