Badgers get offensive

AP Sports Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Jerry Tarkanian's return to the NCAA tournament after a nine-year absence didn't last long.

Jon Bryant scored 21 points, including four consecutive 3-pointers from the left corner, as No. 8 seed Wisconsin beat ninth-seeded Fresno State 66-56 on Thursday night in the West Regional.

"Boy, this one's easy to describe," Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett said. "Jon just simply destroyed that zone from the left side."

Tarkanian, the subject of decades-long investigations by the NCAA, had been away since 1991 when UNLV reached the Final Four, capping 16 trips to the tournament for him with the Runnin' Rebels.

It took five years and four straight trips to the lesser NIT for Tarkanian to get his alma mater of Fresno State into the NCAA tournament. Along the way, there were embarrassing player suspensions and arrests.

"It was great being back," Tarkanian said. "I just wished we were able to be finish the game."

The Badgers (19-13) beat the Bulldogs (24-10) for the third time in the last three years and ended Fresno State's eight-game winning streak. Wisconsin will play No. 1 seed Arizona in the second round Saturday. The Wildcats (27-6) defeated Jackson State 71-47 earlier Thursday.

Andy Kowske added 14 points and 14 rebounds as the Badgers dominated the boards, 37-29, in winning their first NCAA tournament game since 1994. They had lost first-round games twice in the last three years.

Fresno State's Courtney Alexander, the nation's leading scorer with a 25.3 average, was held to 11 on 5-of-19 shooting in 37 minutes.

"I don't feel I forced shots," he said. "I missed some tough shots that normally go in."

Wisconsin's lineup went 10-deep, while the Bulldogs' five-man rotation wore itself out. Tarkanian had only two players to call off the bench.

"We had it going so well and then we just died," he said. "Our kids were very tired."

A pro-Fresno State crowd at the Huntsman Center had much to cheer about early in the second half when the Bulldogs built a seven-point lead on consecutive 3-pointers by Demetrius Porter and Terrance Roberson, who led the Bulldogs with 19 points.

Unlike his appearances with UNLV in the tournament, the sad-eyed Tarkanian didn't chomp on his trademark white towel. He stood with his hands jammed in his pockets watching Alexander miss two straight baskets as the Badgers regained the lead midway through the second half.

Melvin Ely, who finished with 12 points, dunked to put the Bulldogs ahead 44-38 before the ever-patient Badgers milked the shot clock in pursuit of a high percentage shot. Their slowdown paid off with 14 straight points for a 52-44 lead with 6:12 remaining.

Duany Duany started the run with his fourth 3-pointer of the game. Mike Kelley, a two-time Big Ten defensive player of the year, stole the ball and scored on a layup in between inside baskets by Kowske.

"Kelley got in the passing lanes as well as anybody I've seen," Tarkanian said.

Kelley, who applied his peskiness to Alexander for much of the game, had six of Wisconsin's 12 steals. The Badgers' defense forced 17 turnovers, while committing just eight.

"My main objective was to make him shoot over me," Kelley said of Alexander. "I wanted to get a hand up in his face and push him away from the basket. He's used to scoring a lot of points. Because that wasn't happening in a big game, I think he was getting a little frustrated."

The Bulldogs went 7:26 without a basket until Alexander hit a jumper that drew them within six.

"Our zone stopped moving. We just ran out of gas," Tarkanian said. "I took two timeouts to give them rest, but they just didn't have anything left."

By then, Bryant had found a favorite spot in the left corner and kept going there to hit four consecutive 3-pointers, pushing Wisconsin's lead to 61-46 with 4:31 remaining. His shooting keyed a 26-2 run that broke open what had been a defensive battle.

"I just stood in the corner," Bryant joked, adding, "Kowske was setting good screens, I was trying to move on the baseline and get open. They were able to get me the ball."

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