Rushed Reaction: #2 Wisconsin 64, #1 Arizona 63 (OT)Posted by AMurawa on March 29th, 2014
Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) is the NCAA Tournament’s West Region correspondent. He filed this report from Anaheim after #2 Wisconsin’s 64-63 overtime win over #1 Arizona. RTC will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of the Elite Eight and Final Four. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Late-Game Controversy. The officiating was a topic of conversation throughout the game, but it all boiled to a head in the final seconds of overtime. With under five seconds left and Arizona down a bucket, Nick Johnson drove to the hoop, looking to get a shot up. Contact was made between Johnson and Josh Gasser, the official blew the whistle and … charge. Reasonable minds can – and have – differed on whether it was the right call, whether a call should have been made at all, but without a doubt, there was going to be controversy of some sort on that play, regardless of what the official did. The officiating was put on focus again on the next play, as the Wisconsin in-bound pass was challenged by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and knocked out of bounds. The officials went to the monitor for minutes on end, and despite what appeared to be inconclusive evidence, the refs gave the ball back to Arizona, setting up Johnson for redemption. But after inbounding the ball with 2.3 seconds remaining, Johnson took three dribbles and the buzzer went off and the clock expired before launching the shot.
- Wisconsin’s Pace. The game was definitely played at the pace the Badgers were comfortable. Arizona went without a single fast-break point throughout, the Badgers fought the Wildcats to a draw on the glass and Wisconsin was plenty happy to slow the game down when they had the ball, using an average of 24 seconds on their possessions.
- Toughness. The Badgers, for all the things they do well, are not a stunningly athletic team. While Arizona’s got guys like Aaron Gordon and Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson who can leave your jaw on the floor with athletic above-the-rim plays, Wisconsin is not blessed with those types of players. So, in turn, they had to impose their will on this game. That included slowing the game down, limiting fast-break opportunities, and finding ways to manufacture points on the offensive glass. Sean Miller made a point on Thursday night to acknowledge that the perception that the Wildcats are a great rebounding team may not be true anymore since the Brandon Ashley injury. It became apparent that the Badgers sensed a little blood in the water, as Wisconsin does not normally dedicate a lot of resources to offensive rebounding (they were 280th in the nation in offensive rebounding this season), but tonight, they made additional effort to hit the offensive glass, grabbing 42.1% of offensive rebound opportunities in the first half and 33.3% over the course of the game.
Star of the Game. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin. Arizona tried everything to limit Kaminsky but to no avail. The 7′ junior was nearly unstoppable, scoring 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting, grabbed 11 boards (just his second career double-double), knocked in three three-pointers and played all but three minutes. And he drove the Wildcats crazy. Kaleb Tarczewski spent time on him without much success. Arizona tried Gordon on him for stretches with only a bit better success. And there were quite a few times where the plan was to have Gordon or Hollis-Jefferson take him and then switch everything. Regardless, he was unstoppable, scoring inside and out on his way to the West Region’s Most Outstanding Player award.
Wildcard. Butch Ryan’s 90th birthday. Bo Ryan’s father, Butch, died last August at the age of 89. Today would have been his 90th birthday and it was an obviously emotional milestone for the Wisconsin coach.
Wildcard II. Anaheim In The Elite Eight Not Kind To Arizona. The Wildcats have been in the Anaheim regional now four times. They’re 4-0 in Sweet Sixteen games here and now they are 0-4 in Elite Eights. The last time they were here, they had an open look at a three-pointer at the buzzer for the win against Connecticut in 2011, and it rimmed out. Tonight, it was a block/change call with three seconds left in overtime that did them in.
Turning Point. Charge/Block. Forty-four minutes, 57 seconds had elapsed and neither team had yet done enough to distance themselves from the other team. And then came that fateful charge call on Johnson. While the ‘Cats wound up with another chance to close the game, their last and best chance disappeared on that whistle.
- “Frank Kaminsky is the reason Wisconsin is in the Final Four.” — Arizona coach Sean Miller.
- “I know I’m the coach that has been to three Elite Eights, but I have been to three Elite Eights and I’m really proud of all of them. It’s not easy to get to the Elite Eight. Last time we were here in the Honda Center, we had an open three to win it and we missed. Today it came down to a block/charge and a last-second shot, and it didn’t work out. But we have to keep doing things they way we’ve been doing them and one day we’ll cross that line, I know it.” — Miller on the disappointment of another Elite Eight defeat.
- “I thought it was a really, really tough call. I’m going to stop there. I’ve already been fined.” — Miller on Johnson’s charge call.
- “Well, (Kaminsky) has continued to work hard in the weight room. He’s continued to work on his conditioning and his diet. So his stamina has increased and he’s growing into his body; mentally, physically, socially. They tell me he’s funnier than he used to be. And his eyes are more wide open now. Last year I thought at times his eyes were closed, but then I realized that’s just his eyes. If you see him sitting, sometimes you think, ‘oh, look, Frank’s asleep.’ But he’s not asleep. He’s just got that sleepy look.” — Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan.
What’s Next? Wisconsin advances to the Final Four for the first time since 2000 and the first time in Bo Ryan’s career. They’ll face the winner of Kentucky and Michigan in one of the national semifinals next weekend. As for Arizona, it’s another disappointing exit. Aaron Gordon is expected to head off to the NBA, and other players like Nick Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will consider similar moves. But don’t worry for the Wildcats; they’ll reload and be a force again real quick.