Without an answer for seven-foot forward Frank Kaminsky, the Arizona Wildcats became the last Pac-12 team bounced from the NCAA Tournament on Saturday when they fell to the Wisconsin Badgers 64-63 in overtime. Kaminsky, who finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds, ended the game as the leading scorer.
In the first 12 minutes, Arizona pushed the pace and caught the Badgers flat-footed. With 7:59 remaining, Wisconsin was hit with a technical foul after a shooting foul, and after the TV timeout the Wildcats drained three free throws to take a 22-14 lead. But Bo Ryan’s crew steadily shaved down the gap, heading to the locker room at halftime down by just three.
In the second half, Wisconsin took its first lead of the game when Bronson Koenig knocked down a jumper with 15:13 remaining. The top two seeds in the West Region would trade punches and the lead throughout the rest of the second half, neither squad managing to gain the momentum. Traevon Jackson had a chance to win the game for Wisconsin at the buzzer, but his shot with three seconds remaining was short and extra time would prove necessary to settle which team was headed to Dallas for the Final Four.
A strange sequence of events would nearly shift the storyline in the closing seconds. With 3.2 seconds remaining in the game, Nick Johnson was called for an offensive foul for Arizona. WIth the ball and a 64-63 lead, the Badgers looked as though they could just close out the contest to head to the team’s first Final Four since Dick Bennett led Wisconsin to the semifinals in 2000.
But after more than five minutes spent reviewing the replay of the inbounds pass, which was tipped out of bounds as opposing players fought for possession. The officials would eventually rule that it had last been touched by the Badgers, and with 2.3 seconds remaining the ball went back to Arizona in their offensive halfcourt. Johnson caught the pass, lobbed up the desperation jumper, and the ball clanged off the back of the rim and harmlessly to the hardwood.
The win sends Bo Ryan to his first Final Four as a Division I head coach. In Dallas, Wisconsin will play the winner of tomorrow’s Elite Eight showdown between Michigan and Kentucky for a chance at reaching the national championship game.