Second effort: Badgers' big rally downs Arkansas 77-70

Game Photo
Creighton Wisconsin 77, Arkansas 70
 Orleans Arena • Las Vegas, Nev. 

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Wisconsin

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1st 2nd Final
 Arkansas 40 30 70
 Wisconsin 29 48 77
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 Statistical Leaders
 • Sam Dekker: 19 Pts, 7-13 FG
 • Jared Berggren: 10 Pts, 9 Reb, 4 Blk 3-6 FG
 • Traevon Jackson: 11 Pts, 2 Ast, 9-11 FT
 Stats at a Glance
ARK WIS
 FG Percentage .410 .449
 3-Point FG Percentage .375 .421
 FT Percentage .680 .658
 Offensive Rebounds 14 14
 Defensive Rebounds 20 25
 Total Rebounds 34 39
 Turnovers 6 11
 Bench points 21 32
 Blocks 1 5
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Nov. 24, 2012

Final Stats |  AP Photo Gallery 

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- In Wisconsin's 40-minute game against Arkansas, the most important segment might have been the 15-minute halftime break.

Following a half of basketball where everything seemed to go wrong for the Badgers, Wisconsin regrouped at intermission and could do little wrong in the final 20 minutes.

The Badgers erased an 11-point halftime deficit to pull out a 77-70 victory in the third-place game of the Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday night.

"We needed this one," senior Mike Bruesewitz said after the win. "This is a big win for us. We grinded this out and showed a lot of heart."

Freshmen Sam Dekker took another big step in his development, leading the Badgers with 19 points.

Dekker was one of five Badgers in double figures. Ryan Evans had 12 points and seven rebounds for Wisconsin (4-2). Jared Berggren added 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocks and Wisconsin outscored the Razorbacks 48-30 in the second half.

 Fast Facts
• Five Badgers scored in double figures 
• UW finished 18-for-23 (.783) from FT stripe in 2nd half
• Wisconsin opened 2nd half on a 16-5 run 

The Badgers went into halftime not only trailing 40-29, but frustrated by their play, which included eight turnovers and a 7-of-15 effort at the free throw line.

"We were frustrated at halftime," Bruesewitz explained. "We knew we could play better. In the second half we took care of the ball better, knocked down shots and played defense. That's exactly what we needed to do and that's exactly what we talked about in the locker room."

"There was nothing said in that locker room at halftime that wasn't said before the game," Bo Ryan said. "The guys just executed better and stuck to our plan."

That execution began with a defensive stop and was followed up by back-to-back 3-pointers from Ben Brust and Bruesewitz as Wisconsin opened the second half on a 16-5 run to tie the score at 45-45 eight minutes into the second stanza.

The game would see-saw back and forth and remained tied at 58-58 with six minutes to play. Unlike the previous night against Creighton, on Saturday night, it was the Badgers knocking down the free throws and closing out the win.

"We were hungry," Bruesewitz said. "We were disappointed in how we came out in the second half last night, but in these tournaments you have to have a quick turn-around. We were in the same position last night with six or seven minutes left and didn't get it done. Tonight we did."

A Dekker layup with 5:56 to go put the Badgers up for good and they would extend the lead to nine with 41 seconds left. Wisconsin would make 17 of its final 19 free throws and turn the ball over only three times in the second half against Arkansas' "Fastest 40 Minutes" pressure defense.

Bruesewitz had 11 points and nine rebounds and Traevon Jackson added 11 points for Wisconsin, which shot 67 percent in the second half.

The Badgers were 8-of-19 from 3-point range, including 6-for-10 after intermission.

B.J. Young led Arkansas (3-2) with 18 points and five rebounds, while Mardracus Wade added 13 points for the Razorbacks, who shot just 32 percent in the second half.

Up next, Wisconsin returns home to take on Virginia in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at the Kohl Center. Tip off is scheduled for 6 p.m. (CT)

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