Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, March 26, 2015

Wisconsin junior Sam Dekker scored a career-high 23 points while leading Wisconsin to an impressive 79-72 victory over North Carolina in a Sweet 16 matchup on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Here?s senior writer Tom Dienhart?s rapid reaction.

The star: Sam Dekker played like a man possessed on this day, hitting 10-of-15 shots for a game- and career-high 23 points. Wait, it gets better: Dekker also had a game-high 10 rebounds. That helped the Badgers have a 35-28 edge on the glass, which helped negate North Carolina?s 61.5 percent (8-of-13) shooting from 3-point land.

The stat: 23, free throws shot by Wisconsin. And the Badgers made 20 for an 87 percent success rate. North Carolina made just 12-of-18 freebies (66.7 percent). Frank Kaminsky led the way, hitting all eight of his free throws en route to scoring 19 points after a slow start in a game that had five ties, eight lead changes and saw UNC lead 33-31 at the half.

The key to victory: Traevon Jackson made his long-awaited debut after being out since Jan. 11 with a foot injury. He had a minimal impact off the bench, notching four points on 1-of-3 shooting. Less-heralded Zak Showalter-who arrived as a walk-on–was bigger in reserve. He hit all three of his shots for six points with an assist, rebound and steal. That was key with starting point man Bronson Koenig in foul trouble-and eventually fouling out with only nine points.

It was over when: Neither team led by more than five until UNC?s Marcus Paige hit a jumper with 12:16 left in the game to give the Tar Heels? a seven-point advantage. The 12-4 run allowed North Carolina to take a 51-44 lead. But Wisconsin pressed on, using a 9-0 lead as part of a 19-7 spurt to take a 65-60 lead with 5:11 left. UNC cut the Badger lead to one with 4:21 left, but Wisconsin held on by hitting its free throws down the stretch.

What?s next: No. 1 Wisconsin continues its march for a return to the Final Four. Up next is No. 2 Arizona on Saturday.

Notable: Dekker is on a roll, averaging 20.0 points in three tourney games this season. He averaged 13.0 entering the Big Dance.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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