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Game of the Year Nominee: NCAA tournament comeback vs. Oregon

July 3, 2014

The Badgers enjoyed their share of success in 2013-14 and now UWBadgers.com is honoring the best student-athletes, teams and performances of the year. Over the next few weeks, we'll unveil the best of the Badgers in five categories: Big Ten Medal of Honor (June 16), Athletes of the Year (June 17-21), Team Achievements of the Year (June 22-27), Games of the Year (June 28-July 6) and Freshmen of the Year (July 7-13).

Today we feature the Wisconsin men's basketball's NCAA tournament win over Oregon as a nominee for the Game of the Year.

2013-14 Year in Review

MADISON, Wis. -- Trailing 12 points at halftime in the third round of the NCAA tournament, the Wisconsin men's basketball team made its way to the locker room searching for answers, changes, anything to keep its hopes alive of a deep run in March. Head coach Bo Ryan had but one thing to say--one question--to his team.

"How do you want to feel on the bus ride home?"

The Badgers responded with one of the most memorable comebacks in program history, escaping with a thrilling 85-77 win over Oregon in front of a partisan Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Not only did Ryan and the Badgers change the mood of their bus ride home that evening, but also came away with momentum that would give their season new life.

Wisconsin ended up riding that bus all the way to the Final Four.

A trip to the Sweet 16 up for grabs, UW came out of the break firing. UW scored 12 points in the first three minutes following the half, which helped spark an 18-4 run and pull the Badgers ahead, 64-59, with just over 11 minutes to play. Once again anyone's ballgame, a back-and-forth final half of basketball ensued.

Tied with just over five minutes to play, a big jumper from Sam Dekker and pair of clutch free throws from Traevon Jackson kept the Badgers alive late. The Ducks led, 75-74, and each possession was increasing in importance with just 2:50 to play. UW would grab three offensive rebounds in a single possession before Ryan finally called timeout.

In position to deliver a knockout blow, Ben Brust checked in at the scorer's table.

The senior guard then responded, rising and hitting a 3-pointer with 1:07 left that put the Badgers up for good and sent the sea of red in attendance into a craze. Once the final buzzer had sounded, the Badgers had claimed a hair-raising 85-77 win and had punched their ticket to the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last four seasons.

Their comeback bid completed, all that was left to do for the Badgers was stand arm-in-arm and sing the school's alma mater, Varsity, saluting the fans who made a neutral-site contest feel a lot like home.

Frank Kaminsky and Jackson combined to score 33 of the team's 48 points in the second half alone, as Kaminsky led the way for UW with 19 points and Jackson finished with 16. Brust added 12 points--none more important than his go-ahead 3-pointer.

The Badgers would go on to earn a pair of wins in Anaheim, California, first defeating Baylor to advance to the Elite Eight, then claimed another instant-classic defeating No. 1 seed Arizona in a 64-63 overtime victory to advance to the program's first Final Four since 2000.

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