ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Frank Kaminsky carried Wisconsin to the Final Four with 28 points, including six in overtime, as the Badgers defeated Arizona 64-63 in a physical West Region final Saturday night.
Kaminsky had 11 rebounds and scored from all over, including three 3 pointers, for the No. 2 seed Badgers (30-7). It’s Wisconsin’s first Final Four appearance since 2000, and first for 69-year-old coach Bo Ryan, who earned his 704th career victory.
Nick Johnson had the ball with a chance to win, but he missed a shot that came just after the buzzer for Arizona (33-5), the top-seeded team that has yet to win a West Region final in Anaheim in four tries. Johnson led the Wildcats with 16 points, and Aaron Gordon had 18 rebounds in the relentlessly physical game.
Johnson stood with his hands on his hips, staring straight ahead, while Kaminsky and the rest of the Badgers rushed to celebrate.
Traevon Jackson added 10 points for the Badgers, and Kaminsky was chosen as most outstanding player of the West Region.
Kaleb Tarczewski scored 12 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 10 points for the Wildcats, who were trying to get coach Sean Miller to the Final Four for his first time. Instead, Miller was sent to the sidelines on the same day his younger brother Archie’s Dayton Flyers lost to Florida in the South Region final.
The first 40 minutes were a back-and-forth struggle between the only 1-2 seeds remaining in the regionals, with neither team leading by more than three points over the final 12:09 of regulation.
Overtime was even more dramatic, with Arizona having an answer for just about everything Wisconsin did.
Ben Brust hit a 3-pointer to put the Badgers up at the start of the extra session; Gordon answered with a 3 to tie it up again at 57. Kaminsky scored inside and Gordon dunked at the other end for another tie.
Kaminsky’s jumper and a free throw by Josh Gasser gave Wisconsin a 62-59 lead. Tarczewski’s two free throws and Jordin Mayes’ tip-in drew the Wildcats to 64-63 with 58 seconds left.
T. J. McConnell’s jumper missed, but Arizona got the offensive rebound and found Johnson, who missed and got called for the push-off on Gasser with 3 seconds left.
Wisconsin inbounded on the baseline, but turned the ball over in a play reviewed by the referees.
That set up the final play, with Pac-12 player of the year Johnson unable to bail out the Wildcats.