Oregon point guard Payton Pritchard had 19 points and nine assists, and Kenny Wooten dominated the paint with four blocks as the 12th-seeded Ducks beat Wisconsin 72-54 Friday in a first-round game in the South Region in San Jose, Calif.
Louis King scored 17, and Paul White added 14 — all in the second half — as Oregon (24-12) pulled away from the No. 5 Badgers after a 25-25 tie at halftime. Wooten, a springy 6-foot-9 forward, dunked three times en route to nine points and was key to slowing down Wisconsin star senior forward Ethan Happ.
Happ, facing constant double teams from a lengthy Oregon defense, ended his career with 12 points, eight rebounds and no assists — off his season averages of 17.5, 10.1 and 4.6, respectively. He made 5 of 10 shots and committed five turnovers.
Oregon won its ninth consecutive game and will play 13th-seeded UC Irvine in Sunday’s second round in San Jose. The Anteaters upset No. 4 Kansas State 70-64 earlier Friday for the first NCAA Tournament win in school history.
Oregon took a 12-point lead on Pritchard’s layup with 4:19 to go, and Wisconsin (23-11) couldn’t muster enough offense to rally against an Oregon defense that is allowing 54.2 points per game during its winning streak.
Wisconsin guard Khalil Iverson, a senior, scored 12 points, including his first 3-pointer since the 2016-17 season.
Wooten dunked on back-to-back possessions early in the second half — one on a put-back and the other on a lob — as part of an 11-2 run that netted Oregon a 39-33 lead.
About four minutes later, Wooten teamed with White to block a shot from Happ in the lane, jawed a bit about it as he ran down the court and then dunked off a lob from Pritchard on a pick-and-roll. Oregon led 46-37 with 12:39 to go.
Oregon held Wisconsin to 33.3 percent shooting (20 of 60) while making 54.9 percent (28 of 51) of their own attempts from the field.
The game was a defensive slugfest in the first half, as the teams went into halftime tied at 25. Wisconsin knotted the game with four seconds left when Iverson took a cross-court pass from D’Mitrik Trice and drove for a two-handed slam that just beat the shot clock.
Pritchard scored 12 points in the first 20 minutes.
—Field Level Media