SEC Nation analyst and former Alabama quarterback ...
Hogs blow it in Vegas
From left to right, Arkansas' Marshawn Powel, Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky, Arkansas' BJ Young and Wisconsin's Sam Dekker (15) all get their hands on a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational tournament on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
LAS VEGAS Halftime came at the right time for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Trailing by 11, the Badgers started executing better and making shots against Arkansas as their size and experience won out over the Razorbacks' speed and youth.
Sam Dekker fueled the Badgers and scored 19 points to lead Wisconsin past Arkansas 77-70 in the third-place game of the Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday night at the Orleans Arena.
"We had to break that streak of confidence (Arkansas) had going," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "The halftime helped. Our defense got a lot better as well as our decisions with the ball. We didn't get good spacing. We needed to do a better job with our deception."
In addition to Dekker's play, Ryan Evans had 12 points and seven rebounds for Wisconsin (4-2). Jared Berggren added 10 points, nine rebounds and five blocks and Wisconsin outscored the Razorbacks 48-30 in the second half.
Wisconsin opened that half on a 16-5 run and took the lead for good at 60-58 with 5:56 left.
"We did a pretty poor job in the first half," Berggren said. "In the second half, we did a better job defensively. We did a better handling (Arkansas's field goals) and handling their pressure and we got some easy buckets."
B.J. Young led Arkansas (3-2) with 18 points and five rebounds, while Mardracus Wade added 13 points for the Razorbacks, which shot 32 percent in the second half.
"(Young) can score. He's a scooter," Ryan said. "There's not much he can't slice through. Young is very good with the ball. They have a few other guys who can get to the rim and make it difficult for us. They're athletic and relentless, but we were too."
Mike Bruesewitz had 11 points and nine rebounds and Traevon Jackson added 11 points for Wisconsin, which shot 67 percent in the second half.
After trailing 40-29 at intermission, Wisconsin tied the game three times and briefly took the lead before the last tie 58-58. Dekker's layup with 5:56 to go put the Badgers up for good and they would extend the lead to nine with 41 seconds left.
Wisconsin was 8 of 19 from 3-point range and made 25 of 38 from the free-throw line for 65 percent. Arkansas was 3 of 8 from 3-point range, all coming in the first half.
"We shared the basketball. We got to the free-throw line and we kept Wisconsin off the free-throw line," Anderson said of his team's first-half performance. "In the second half, I thought we didn't come out with the same type of intensity. But you've got to credit Wisconsin. They made some adjustments and they started making some shots."
The Arkansas bench was outscored 32-21 and the Razorbacks finished 2-2 in the Invitational, 0-2 in Las Vegas. The Badgers were 3-1 in the Invitational, and 1-1 in Las Vegas.
Wisconsin opened the game with an 8-2 run, but the Razorbacks answered with the same run and eventually took the lead for the rest of the half, 15-13 with 13:30 until halftime. Arkansas built its largest advantage of the first half at 36-23 with 3:11 left. The Razorbacks shot 52 percent in the half.
Arkansas did outscore the Badgers in points in the paint, 42-24, and off turnovers, 17-6.
"The teams get better and the teams get tougher," Anderson said. "We've got time to rest. Defensively, we got to be on the same page. During the last five or six minutes, we've got to make plays."