ANAHEIM, Calif. — 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 Regional final last night.
Kaminsky had 11 rebounds and scored from all over, including three three-pointers, for the No. 2 seed Badgers (30-7). It’s Wisconsin’s first Final Four appearance since 2000, and the first for 69-year-old coach Bo Ryan, who earned his 704th career victory.
“Frank Kaminsky is the reason they’re going to the Final Four,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
Nick Johnson had the ball with a chance to win for Arizona (30-5), but he missed a shot that came just after the buzzer. 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 players rushed to celebrate.
Westerville South graduate Traevon Jackson added 10 points for the Badgers.
The Wildcats were trying to get Miller to the Final Four for his first time. Instead, he was sent to the sidelines on the same day that his younger brother Archie’s Dayton team lost to Florida in the South Regional.
“The thing about the NCAA tournament is its exhilarating when you win and equally devastating when you lose,” Sean Miller said.
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 three-pointer to put the Badgers up at the start of the extra session; Gordon answered with a three to tie it 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. Kaleb 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 got called for the push-off on Gasser with three seconds left.
Wisconsin inbounded on the baseline but turned the ball over on 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.