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Fun in the Sun: Badgers outlast Billikens in semifinals

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Saint Louis 10 Wisconsin 63, Saint Louis 57
2013 Cancun Challenge
Aventura Palace • Playa del Carmen, Mexico • Attendance: 934

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1st 2nd Final
 Saint Louis
23 34 57
31 32 63
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 Statistical Leaders
 • Traevon Jackson: 16 Pts, 6 Reb 4-10 FG
 • Frank Kaminsky: 12 Pts, 7 Reb 5-8 FG
 • Sam Dekker: 8 Pts, 7 Reb 3-6 FG
 Stats at a Glance
 FG Percentage .328 .467
 3-Point FG Percentage .267 .333
 FT Percentage .647 .567
 Offensive Rebounds 12 6
 Defensive Rebounds 25 34
 Total Rebounds 37 40
 Turnovers 7 9
 Largest Lead 3 15
 Points in the Paint 26 30
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Nov. 26, 2013

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico (AP) -- Traevon Jackson scored 16 points and Frank Kaminsky added 12 Tuesday and No. 10 Wisconsin blunted a Saint Louis surge to win 63-57 and advance to face West Virginia in Wednesday's finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Kaminsky grabbed eight rebounds and had four blocks that helped the unbeaten Badgers (7-0) to a 20-15 halftime lead. Jackson stepped up to help squash a second-half run by Saint Louis (5-1) that made it a 5-point game with 1:10 to play.

"These are the type of games you’ve got to find a way to win, against it’s a really good team that’ll be in the (NCAA ) tournament," Jackson said. "It was a great win."

With the win, Wisconsin is off to its best start of the Bo Ryan era. The Badgers have not opened the season with seven consecutive wins since starting 11-0 in 1993-94.

 Fast Facts
• UW moves to 7-0 for first time during Bo Ryan era
• Wisconsin off to best start since 1993-94 season
• Badgers to take on West Virginia in Cancun Challenge Championship

Robe Loe led the reigning Atlantic 10 Conference champion Billikens with 15 points, Austin McBroom had 14 and Dwayne Evans added 12.

The lead changed hands five times in the first period until 5:42, when Kaminsky blocked McBroom's layup attempt and Bronson Koenig made a 3-pointer to give the Badgers a 20-15 lead. Kaminsky had four of the Badger's seven blocks in the period.

The 7-foot-tall Kaminsky also drew Saint Louis' 10th team foul of the period, putting Wisconsin in the double bonus, and the Badgers converted five free throws in the final three minutes.

"We played better," Ryan said. "Some breakdowns, two three-point plays there that never should have happened. That could get better."

The Billikens tried to rally on a layup and dunk by Loe, but Wisconsin's Josh Gasser and Duje Dukan responded with layups of their own to make it 31-23 at the half. Saint Louis shot 31.3 percent from the field in the period compared with Wisconsin's 47.6 percent.

Wisconsin opened the second half on a 6-2 run that included two layups by Kaminsky, forcing a Saint Louis timeout, then shot five more unanswered points for a 40-25 lead at 14:05, their largest lead of the game.

But then Evans, benched in the first period after committing three fouls, re-entered the game and recharged the Saint Louis offense, driving into the paint and drawing fouls to score four free throws and a layup in a little over a minute to make it a 10-point game at 9:56.

Jordair Jett scored a jumper, then had a chance to make it a 6-point game, but missed the free throws and Wisconsin withstood the Saint Louis burst, extending their lead to 50-38 with 5:16 to play on a layup by Sam Dekker and a Kaminsky jumper.

But Saint Louis rallied again, with Dekker accidentally tipping in a shot by Evans, and Loe hitting a jumper and a free throw to make 5-point game with 1:10, to go. But the Billikens turned it over and Jackson hit two free throws to make it 58-51. Loe and McBroom hit back-to-back 3-pointers for Saint Louis, but the Badgers held off the run, with Jackson scoring 10 points in the final 3 minutes.

"Today was a lot better," Gasser said. "We followed the scouting report. We showed a lot more effort, a lot more talk out there and that’s what you need against a team like this, because they run their stuff so well, they have such good continuity offensively."

Jackson led all scorers with 7 free throws on 7-of-10 shooting. Kaminsky scored a Wisconsin single-game record 43 points against North Dakota on Nov. 19 and ranks among the Big Ten Conference's top 10 in scoring, averaging 17.3 points per game.

Wisconsin beat Oral Roberts 76-67 Saturday and Saint Louis beat Bowling Green 74-47 to advance to the semifinals.

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