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Sweet and Sour Cajun: Wisconsin drags down LSU for Elite Eight berth

2000 NCAA Tournament
Game Photo
Wisconsin Wisconsin 61, 4 LSU 48
The Pit • Albuquerque, N.M. • Attendance: 16,004

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1st 2nd Final
22 39 61
14 34 48
 Statistical Leaders
 • Jon Bryant: 16 Pts, 4 Ast, 3 Reb 6-14 FG
 • Andy Kowske: 8 Pts, 4 Reb, 3-5 3FG 
 • Maurice Linton: 8 Pts, 3 Reb, 2 Stl
 Stats at a Glance
 FG Percentage .382 .362
 3-Point FG Percentage .316 .238
 FT Percentage .722 .750
 Offensive Rebounds 5 7
 Defensive Rebounds 25 33
 Total Rebounds 30 40
 Turnovers 9 23
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March 24, 2000

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Wisconsin wondered if LSU could handle its defensive pressure. The Badgers got the answer they wanted.

Eighth-seeded Wisconsin, a plodding but productive bunch, made it an all-Big Ten final in the West Regional with a 61-48 victory over the fourth-seeded Tigers on Thursday night.

As they did in beating Fresno State in the first round and then upsetting top-seeded Arizona, the Badgers relied on defense.

"We were just as confident coming into this game as we were the last two," guard Jon Bryant said. "We kept saying, we're not sure some of these teams have seen defense like we can play. That's just our style - get in their face and make them make plays."

The Badgers (21-13) will face Purdue (24-9) on Saturday for a spot in the Final Four. The Boilermakers beat Gonzaga 75-66.

 Fast Facts
• Badgers forced Tigers into 14 first-half turnovers
• 48 pts were the fewest scored by LSU this season
• UW is fourth 8th seed since 1985 to make Elite 8

Coupled with Michigan State's victory over Syracuse in the Midwest, the Big Ten has three teams in the final eight.

Bryant led Wisconsin with 16 points. Stromile Swift and Jabari Smith each scored 12 for LSU (28-6).

LSU, which used its speed and the frontline duo of Swift and Smith to beat Southeast Missouri State and Texas, hit a wall against Wisconsin.

The 48 points were the fewest scored by LSU this season. The Tigers' previous low was 57 in a loss to Florida in January.

"Their defense was aggressive the whole 40 minutes and our offense wasn't good the whole 40 minutes," Smith said. "We played well in spurts, but in the Sweet 16, you can't play well in spurts. You've got to play well all the way through."

Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett said about the only teams who are used to the Badgers' defense are those in the Big Ten.

"I attribute a lot of this to playing in the Big Ten, because every game is like this," Bennett said. "It wasn't pretty. We were not particularly sharp offensively, but we made them earn everything and when they were unable to, we capitalized. I think that's pretty much the story."

Wisconsin scored the final 11 points of the first half to take a 22-14 lead. LSU went scoreless over the final 5:03.

Wisconsin took twice as many shots as LSU in the first half and the Tigers had as many turnovers as points. LSU finished with 23 turnovers to Wisconsin's 9.

It got uglier in the second half.

An offensive rebound basket by Lamont Roland got LSU within 26-18, but the Badgers used a 10-0 run to take a 36-18 lead with 13:44 left. Bryant's 3-pointer got the run going and Duany Duany's 3-pointer ended it. Bryant also scored on a layup and Maurice Linton added a jumper from just inside the arc.

"Teams will take quick shots," said forward Andy Kowske, who along with Mark Vershaw did the defensive work on Swift and Smith. "They don't want to work against our defense. I think that's what they were doing in the second half.

"I think they played with less zest in the second half. They got some points, but it was mostly off offensive rebounds, not within their offense."

Wisconsin advanced despite missing 18 of its first 23 shots and shooting 38 percent. But while the Badgers were having trouble scoring in the game's first 15 minutes, LSU was having a difficult time holding onto the ball.

The turnovers also kept the ball away from Swift and Smith. The pair got off just three shots between them in the first half and Swift finished with just five shots.

Swift's only attempt in the first half was a 3-pointer for the game's opening basket.

A 3-pointer by Bryant got Wisconsin's late first-half run rolling. Vershaw added two free throws, Bryant scored on a reverse layup, Mike Kelley scored off a steal and finished the half with a pass to Julian Swartz for a layup with four seconds left.

Wisconsin, which finished sixth in the Big Ten during the regular season, got into the NCAA tournament with a late-season run. The Badgers have won 10 of their last 13 games, with the three losses all to Michigan State.

Wisconsin has won three tournament games for the first time since winning the 1941 national title.

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