ANAHEIM, CA–The West Region top-seeded Arizona Wildcats season came to an end Saturday night as they fell in overtime to second-seed Wisconsin 64-63 in overtime at Honda Center. The Badgers (30-7) advance to next weekend’s Final Four in north Texas, while the Wildcats season ends at 33-5.
Here are five things we learned in the loss.
1. Frank the Tank: Miller and the ‘Cats talked Friday about their concerns with Wisconsin’s versatile seven-footer Frank Kaminsky. Saturday the nightmare became a reality as the junior torched UofA for a game-high 28 points on 11-20 shooting. Too quick for center Kaleb Tarczewski and too big for 6’7 Aaron Gordon to handle, Miller even tried guard Nick Johnson at times in the second half with little no success. He also grabbed 11 rebounds, seven offensive in 37 minutes. “Frank Kaminsky’s the reason Wisconsin’s in the Final Four,” he said afterwards. “Kaminsky made some great plays. He’s a difficult matchup.”
2. Backcourt Bricks: Johnson and fellow junior guard T.J. McConnell combined to shoot 8-27 from the floor. Johnson was as cold as the ice here at the home of the Anaheim Ducks, following up Thursday’s 2-12 effort with a 6-17 in the Elite Eight. Wisconsin also held the duo from getting their teammates involved offensively as UofA tallied just eight assists (Johnson three, McConnell two).
3. On Wisconsin: Bo Ryan’s team continued to grind even after a slow start which saw the Badgers fall behind by eight in the first half. Say what you want about Wisconsin’s old-school style but it’s proven effective as Ryan has gotten into the Big Dance each of his 13 seasons in Madison. They don’t hurt themselves and certainly don’t get rattled. Both were proved time and time again against UofA.
4. Flip a Coin: Sometimes the stats don’t lie. This one could have gone either way and all the participants said as much in their post-game media sessions. “You know, Wisconsin made one more play at the end and that was the difference,” McConnell said. Two of the top defensive teams in the country proved it again Saturday as the ‘Cats (39%) and Badgers (39.3%) both struggled shooting. Arizona out-rebounded Wisconsin 39-38 and both teams took excellent care of the ball combining for just 15 turnovers.
5. Too Early To Tell: Freshman Aaron Gordon lived up to his advanced billing and more this season. A projected lottery pick by many, Gordon said after the game he’s unsure of what his future holds. He scored 11 points on just a just 3-11 shooting but grabbed a game and career-high 18 rebounds and found himself in the right place at the right time at both ends of the floor when the ‘Cats needed him most Saturday. His 18 boards is a school record for an NCAA tournament game.