(2) UW 64, (1) Arizona 63: Last word
By ZACH HEILPRIN
Player of the game: Frank Kaminsky
On a night the rest of the team didn’t shoot it well the Badgers big man showed his complete game in scoring 28 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. His variety of post moves were complimented by his outside shooting as he put Wisconsin on his back against Arizona.
“Frank Kaminsky is the reason Wisconsin's in the Final Four,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “If I had to do it all over again in terms of our game plan, I would do it the same way.”
The Wildcats used a variety of players on the junior, with some having better luck than others. They used 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski early, along with freshman Aaron Gordon for a time. But Kaminsky stayed aggressive without forcing anything. He was 3 of 5 from beyond the arc and 11 of 20 overall.
“Kaminsky made some great plays,” Miller added. “He's a difficult match‑up. Got to be one of the best offensive players who plays college basketball, for sure.”
Of Kaminsky’s 11 rebounds, seven of them were on the offense end. He was one of just two Badgers that made it to double-digits scoring on the night. He accounted for six of Wisconsin’s 10 points in overtime.
“I can't explain it, actually,” Kaminsky said of winning the game. “This is like nothing else I've ever felt before. We've all played basketball our whole lives and we've all dreamed of going to the Final Four. To actually accomplish that is something I can't put into words. But we all know we still have a lot of basketball left. We've got 40 more minutes. We're going to enjoy this now, but this is business. We want a national championship now. We have made it to the opportunity to get there, so why not go get it.”
Bo Ryan finally getting to a Final Four
Though the UW coach has been to every Final Four since 1976, this will be the first time he’s going as a coach of one of the teams. In his two years at UW-Milwaukee, and his first 12 years at Wisconsin, the 66-year-old had fallen short of the game’s biggest stage. He’ll head to Arlington, Texas with a heavy heart, this will be the first Final Four weekend that he hasn’t had his father with him (Butch died last August), but he believes he'll there in spirit.
It was probably fitting that Wisconsin needed one more stop on the defensive end to cement their victory. There has been so much talk of how this team is the best offensive team under Ryan but that it was not up to snuff at the other end. Well, for the final 2.3 seconds of overtime they were.
Arizona’s Nick Johnson got the ball on the inbound and was guarded by Josh Gasser who got held up on a screen. That forced Traevon Jackson to pick him up. He was able to push Johnson away from the basket because of the help of Kaminsky behind him. That led to Johnson taking more dribbles than time allowed and he couldn’t get the shot off. It’s that type of on the ball, help defense that was missing for Wisconsin in the middle of the year. They found it just in time.
“We just tried to make it as tough as possible on him,” Gasser said of the final play. “He's a tremendous player. He's been doing it all year long. He's a really fun player to guard. It was a good battle out there, and fortunately, he didn't make a play there.”
Sam Dekker’s inbounds pass
This is pretty nitpicky but in a situation like Dekker was facing – trying to get the ball in with 3.2 seconds left – he probably should have called a timeout instead of throwing it to Jackson, who was covered well. It allowed Arizona another chance for a game-winner but they couldn’t connect.
Stat of the game:17:09
That’s the amount of game time – 12:09 in the second half and five minutes in the overtime – where it was a one-possession game. Neither team led by more than three points the entire stretch, and the game was just the second in this year’s tournament that was decided by one point.
Odds and ends:
Frank Kaminsky was named West Regional Most Outstanding Player. Traevon Jackson was named to the All-West Regional team.
Kaminsky's 28 points and 11 rebounds was the first double-double by a Badgers player since Marcus Landry went for 18 points and 10 rebounds in a loss to Xavier in 2009.
Only Michael Finley scored more points (36) in a NCAA tournament game for Wisconsin than Kaminsky’s 28.
The win in overtime was just the second such tournament game for Wisconsin. In their other overtime game they beat Florida State 61-59 in 2009.
Can’t miss video:
(via UWBadgers.com) The Badgers celebrate their trip to the Final Four and are joined by Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Wisconsin will play either Michigan or Kentucky in a national semifinal game next Saturday night in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium.
Listen to Zach Heilprin every weekday on “The Jump Around” at ESPNWisconsin.com, and follow him on Twitter: @zachheilprin