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(Saturday, March 29th)
Final Score: Wisconsin 64, Arizona 63 (OT)
Anaheim, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - No matter what it tried, the fifth-ranked defensive team in the nation had no answer for Frank Kaminsky.
The Wisconsin junior big man scored 28 points, including a tip-in with 1:08 left that proved to be the difference, and had 11 rebounds as the Badgers advanced to the Final Four with a 64-63 overtime win over Arizona in the West Region final on Saturday.
"We all know we still have a lot of basketball left," said Kaminsky. "We're going to enjoy this now but this is business. We want a national championship."
Wisconsin (30-7) improved to 20-12 in the NCAA Tournament under Bo Ryan, who guided the Badgers to the Final Four for the first time as head coach and third time in program history.
Traevon Jackson tallied 10 points and five assists for Wisconsin, while Sam Dekker provided seven points and eight rebounds.
The Wildcats (33-5), who spent much of the season ranked No. 1 overall before losing forward Brandon Ashley for the season with a broken foot, got 16 points from Pac-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson and a career-high 18 rebounds from freshman Aaron Gordon in defeat.
"That's the greatness of the NCAA Tournament," said Arizona coach Sean Miller. "The thrill of victory and then when you lose it's like a car crashes. You're done."
After Kaminsky tipped in Jackson's missed layup to put the Badgers in front, 64-61, Jordin Mayes had a putback on the other end for a one-point margin. Arizona then came up with a crucial stop and, left without a timeout, had to play out the final 30 seconds.
T.J. McConnell got a look from around 18 feet with 11 seconds left that missed long, but Arizona gathered the rebound and put the ball in Johnson's hands. The junior drove on Gasser but was called for an offensive foul with just over three seconds showing.
On the ensuing inbounds, Hollis-Jefferson deflected Gasser's pass intended for Jackson out-of-bounds. After a lengthy review, officials determined that the ball last touched Jackson, leaving UA with one final look. Johnson received the ball and dribbled left, but took one too many dribbles before rising up for a mid-range jumper. The shot, which came just after the buzzer, missed regardless.
Wisconsin will take on the winner of the Midwest Region final between Kentucky and Michigan in next Saturday's Final Four.
Arizona never trailed in the first half, jumping out to a 7-3 lead early on. Dekker's 3-pointer that he banked in from the right wing was the only Wisconsin bucket over the first 3:51 of the contest.
The Wildcats continued to build to their lead and frustrations built on the Wisconsin sideline, eventually resulting in a Ryan technical foul at 7:59. Johnson made both of the ensuing free throws, and Gabe York split a pair for a 22-14 spread.
Gordon missed his next two shots and McConnell was off on a triple, and Arizona failed to stretch its lead into double figures. The Badgers took advantage, with Kaminsky's jumper at 4:16 capping a 6-2 run. Wisconsin then scored the final five points of the first half but still trailed 28-25 at the break.
McConnell was whistled for three fouls in the first three minutes of the second half, sending the Arizona floor general to the bench. Rondae Hollis- Jefferson took his spot and made an immediate impact, hitting a circus shot in transition on his first touch. Kaminsky hit a 3 at the other end, however, tying the score for the first time at 34-34.
Josh Gasser's pull-up jumper out of a timeout gave the Badgers their first lead. Bronson Koenig made it a 41-36 spread with his corner 3, but the Wildcats came storming back. Hollis-Jefferson followed up a McConnell transition 3-ball with a tip-in to knot it at 41, and Johnson put UA back in front with a deep 3 from the right wing.
Johnson kept Arizona in front with two more buckets, but he missed badly on a fade-away from the right baseline and Wisconsin regained the lead on Kaminsky's triple at the other end.
Gordon's first field goal of the game -- a reverse layup at 2:32 -- made it 52-52 heading into the final media timeout.
It was 54-54 at the end of regulation. Jackson's righty layup at 1:08 gave the Badgers the lead, and Hollis-Jefferson slammed home Johnson's miss to tie it. Jackson's isolation jumper missed as regulation came to an end.
The Badgers are now tied for second in program history with 30 wins, matching the 2006-07 team ... Wisconsin now leads the all-time series, 4-2 ... Arizona came into the game ranking fifth nationally in scoring defense (58.2 points) and first in defensive efficiency, allowing just 87.2 points per 100 possessions ... Kaleb Tarczewski and Hollis-Jefferson scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, for the Wildcats ... This was the seventh overtime game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, matching the 1995 and 1997 tourneys for most OT games in history.
03/30 01:31:46 ET
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