Baylor blows most of big lead, beats Wisconsin 70-65
KANSAS CITY, Mo.--Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. had 19 points and 10 rebounds, Manu Lecomte poured in 25 points and No. 25 Baylor held on after blowing most of a 19-point lead to beat Wisconsin 70-65 on Monday night in the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Classic.
The Bears (4-0) established a 38-26 lead by halftime and stretched it to 53-34 midway through the second half, only for the Badgers (2-2) to whittle it to 57-55 with 2:12 left in the game.
Lecomte answered with five consecutive free throws, though. After the Badgers' Aleem Ford curled in a 3-pointer, Nuni Omot added two foul shots and Lecomte made two more to put the game away, sending the Bears into a matchup with Creighton for the title Tuesday night.
The Bluejays dumped No. 23 UCLA 100-91 in the other semifinal.
Ethan Happ had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Badgers (2-2), while Brad Davison returned from a left shoulder injury to ignite their second-half charge. He finished with 13 points.
Wisconsin held the Bears without a field goal for the final 8 minutes, 43 seconds.
The Badgers were trying to rebound from an 80-70 loss to No. 15 Xavier, but instead fell into an early 22-10 hole. Happ started to get on track later in the half, and Khalil Iverson's 3-pointer got the Badgers within 33-26 before the Bears scored five straight heading into halftime.
The lead stretched in the second half as Wisconsin struggled with Baylor's 2-3 zone.
But the plucky Badgers refused to go away, at one point scoring on next seven consecutive trips down floor. Davison got things going after returning from the locker room, where he briefly had his left shoulder worked on, and Happ began getting loose underneath the basket for put-backs and layups.
After piecing together a 21-3 run, the Badgers had cut their deficit to 57-55 with 2:12 to go.
That's when Lecomte was fouled beyond the 3-point line and made his free throws, beginning a parade of Bears to the line. And while they struggled there early, they made them count late in the game.
BO KNOWS HALLS
Wisconsin fans cheered wildly when they saw Bo Ryan, their longtime coach, who was inducted into the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame earlier in the day. Ryan led the Badgers to back-to-back Final Four appearances before turning the program over to his protege, Greg Gard.
Davison hurt his shoulder when he landed hard on the defensive end with 13:52 left in the game. He headed straight to the locker room with a trainer but returned to the bench a few minutes later, and he quickly checked into the game. He wound up fouling out in the final minute.
Baylor showed off its talent over the first 30 minutes, then displayed down the stretch some of the reasons the Bears have struggled in the NCAA Tournament. They began taking ugly shots, committed crucial breakdowns on defense and allowed the momentum to get away from them.
Wisconsin showed some poise in mounting its comeback, but the Badgers don't have enough perimeter scoring to come from behind quickly. It took some grinding to make it a game, and the Badgers ran out of time to come all the way back.
Baylor takes on Creighton for the tournament title.
Wisconsin meets UCLA in the third-place game.