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Associated Press
Baylor’s Rico Gathers dives for a loose ball during the first half against Wisconsin on Friday in a West Regional semifinal in Anaheim, Calif.

Badgers set the pace in blowout of Bears

– Ben Brust and his Wisconsin teammates got oodles of open shots while they sliced and diced Baylor’s vaunted zone defense. When the Bears had the ball, 7-foot Frank Kaminsky always seemed to be right in their way.

Brust, Kaminsky and their Badgers realize they dominated Baylor in a 69-52 victory Thursday night because of a coach who always puts them in the right spots.

Bo Ryan has never been to college basketball’s final weekend, but the Badgers are thrilled to put him on the brink.

“That would be a very special thing to do, but we also know that he’s not going to let us look too far ahead,” said Brust, who scored 14 points. “When that time comes, we’ll handle it. I’d definitely like to do that for him.”

Kaminsky scored 19 points and blocked six shots while Wisconsin romped into the West Regional final, reaching the final eight for the third time in school history.

Brust hit three of the six 3-pointers from the second-seeded Badgers (29-7), who jumped to a 14-point lead in the first half and never let up on the overmatched Bears (26-12).

Kaminsky and his disciplined teammates shredded the Baylor zone that played so well in the first two games. Wisconsin also methodically shut down Baylor’s talented offense while moving into its second regional final in 13 years under Ryan, who has seen just about everything except the Final Four in a 700-win coaching career.

“I’d be honored to be a part of that,” Kaminsky said.

Wisconsin advanced to face the winner of top-seeded Arizona’s meeting with San Diego State in the regional final Saturday at Honda Center. The Badgers haven’t been to the Final Four since retired coach Dick Bennett got them there in 2000.

The Badgers advanced by countering everything the Bears do well. Wisconsin wrecked Baylor’s zone, negated their 3-point shooting acumen with perimeter defense, kept the tempo at the Badgers’ preferred speed and even held a 39-33 rebounding edge on Baylor, one of the nation’s top rebounding teams.

“We get 40 more minutes, and I’m awfully proud of them,” Ryan said.

Wisconsin held Baylor to a season-low in first-half points and led 29-16 at halftime.

Cory Jefferson scored 15 points for the sixth-seeded Bears in their third Sweet 16 trip in five years.

Isaiah Austin and Kenny Chery scored 12 points apiece for Baylor.

“Wisconsin really played a great game, and we did a very poor job in making things tough,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, who still led his team to a strong finish after its 2-8 start to Big 12 play.

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