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Escaping the Spider Web: Badgers use historic run to outlast Richmond

2013 NCAA Tournament
Game Photo

6 Wisconsin 76, 11 Richmond 64
2004 NCAA Tournament - First Round (E. Rutherford Region)
Bradley Center • Milwaukee, Wis. • Attendance: 18,886

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1st 2nd Final
 Richmond 32 32 64
25 51 76
 Statistical Leaders
 • Mike Wilkinson: 18 Pts, 5 Reb, 2 Ast 
 • Boo Wade: 16 Pts, 3 Reb, 4 Ast
 • Devin Harris: 11 Pts, 3 Reb, 6 Ast
 Stats at a Glance
 FG Percentage .463 .490
 3-Point FG Percentage .438 .444
 FT Percentage .538 .750
 Offensive Rebounds 13 11
 Defensive Rebounds 16 18
 Total Rebounds 29 29
 Turnovers 14 9
 Blocks 3 3
 Steals 8 7
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March 19, 2004

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (AP) -- It took awhile for Wisconsin and its fans to turn the Bradley Center into the Kohl Center East.

Once they did, there was no stopping the sixth-seeded Badgers, who were playing just 75 miles from their campus.

Wisconsin got 18 points from Mike Wilkinson and a career-high 16 from Boo Wade in overcoming a 13-point second-half deficit to beat Richmond 76-64 in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday night.

 Fast Facts
• Badgers set school record for wins in a season (25)
• UW and Pitt also battled for the 1941 NCAA title
• Game saw 10 ties and 11 lead changes

"Tremendous job by the fans," said Big Ten player of the year Devin Harris, who got off to a slow start before leading the comeback. "They helped us through it all the way. I'm glad we came here because I don't know if we'd have done it anywhere else."

The sixth-seeded Badgers advanced to the second round of the East Rutherford Regional on Sunday. They will face third-seeded Pittsburgh, a 53-44 winner over Central Florida.

Wilkinson scored 12 points in the second half and Harris, who was held scoreless in the first half, finished with 11 points and dished out six assists.

It was the second straight year the Badgers overcame a 13-point deficit to win in the NCAA tournament. Last year, they beat Tulsa 61-60 in Spokane, Wash., after trailing 58-45 with 3:36 remaining.

"We made a comeback like this last year when there were 50 people cheering for us," Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. "But do you think for one second that we didn't feel that crowd was something that helped us?"

The Badgers (25-6) set a school record for wins in a season, but trailed 42-29 with less than 14 minutes left.

Wisconsin started scoring in transition after 11th-seeded Richmond's furious defense backfired and sapped the Spiders. Suddenly, their shots stopped falling.

"We just ran into a wall. We kind of let our offense affect our defense," Richmond's Mike Skrocki said.

The Spiders couldn't maintain their aggressive pace on defense even with coach Jerry Wainwright's liberal substitution patterns and before they knew it, the game had gotten away from them.

"We're not 13 points better than any team in the country," Wainwright said. "So, I knew the game would come back to us."

Over the last 12 minutes, the Badgers scored on 20 straight possessions before a turnover at the buzzer.

After the Badgers went ahead 49-48 on Clayton Hanson's 3-pointer at the 8:02 mark, Eric Zwayer's jumper quickly restored the Spiders' lead. But Wilkinson's 3-pointer sent the Badgers on a victory-sealing 14-0 run that gave Wisconsin a 63-50 lead with 4:36 left.

"Once they heard the crowd behind them and they hit a few shots, they basically felt like they couldn't miss," Zwayer said. "That hurt us. It was like a tidal wave that came across us."

Harris, one of four Badgers from Milwaukee, picked up his third foul with 18:27 left but that didn't prevent him from tenaciously defending the ball and sparking the comeback on the offensive end.

"I've seen guys in this exact situation get played that way and force 15 shots and go 4-for-15 and the team loses," Ryan said. "He's 2-for-6 with six assists and two turnovers. That says a lot for a young man who is developing into a pretty good point guard."

Jamaal Scott and Skrocki each scored 12 to lead Richmond, which used a 13-0 run spanning halftime to take a 38-25 lead with 17:12 left.

With Harris on the bench with two fouls, the Spiders (20-13) scored the last seven points of the half to take a 32-25 lead at the break.

They scored the first six points after halftime and held the Badgers without a point for three minutes.

The Badgers turned the double-digit deficit into a double-digit lead in a seven-minute span when Wade's dunk with five minutes left made it 61-50.

"Man, things were just clicking," said Freddie Owens, who scored 10 points for Wisconsin. "Everybody stepped up, whether it was rebounding, defending, scoring. That's what's so great about this team."

After routing Illinois in the Big Ten title game, the Badgers fully expected a better seeding. But they didn't complain when they were sent to Milwaukee, a 90-minute trip up Interstate 94 from their Madison campus and home to four Badgers.

Wisconsin hadn't had an NCAA tournament game in front of so many red-clad fans since March 22, 1941, when the Badgers beat Pittsburgh at the UW Field House a week before winning their only national title.

"It was louder than the Kohl Center," forward Ray Nixon said. "It worked out pretty good."

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