Rushed Reactions: #1 Wisconsin 85, #2 Arizona 78

Posted by Andrew Murawa on March 28th, 2015


Three Key Takeaways.

Sam Dekker's Career Night Was Just One of Many Great Individual Offensive Performances (USA Today Images)

Sam Dekker’s Career Night Was Just One of Many Great Individual Offensive Performances (USA Today Images)

  1. Second-half offensive explosion. The numbers were simply insane for Wisconsin in the second half. To understand just how good those numbers are, we’ll start by looking at Arizona’s numbers: 1.33 points per possession, 59.5% eFG, 20-of-22 from the free throw line. And they were outscored by 10 points. Let that sink in for a second. Now prepare yourself for the Wisconsin numbers: 105.3% eFG. 1.62 points per possession. 10-of-12 from three. Only two players missed shots in the half: Kaminsky missed a few and Josh Gasser missed a corner three. That’s it. Sam Dekker went 6-of-6 from the field and 5-of-5 from three. You can’t even call those video game numbers because video games are far more realistic. Just straight bonkers.
  2. Sam Dekker. Late in the game with two minutes left and Arizona feeling lucky to be down just five, the Wildcats locked in on defense, denied the ball to Frank Kaminsky and the ball wound up in Dekker’s hands in the corner. He knocked in a late shot clock three and when the ‘Cats called a timeout following their possession, head coach Sean Miller went out of his way to give Dekker a head nod for just his latest big shot of the weekend. After turning in a career-high on Thursday night with 23, Dekker went one better tonight, knocking in 27. For the weekend, he played 69 minutes, scored 50 points and shot an 80.7% eFG.
  3. Yes, Wisconsin Can. The question now is can the Badgers exceed last year’s accomplishments. Kentucky could be waiting for them next weekend and will present quite a challenge, but if Wisconsin plays anything like they did today, the Badgers can beat anybody. If it is indeed Kentucky, those Wildcats will have a handful of more size-appropriate matchups for Kaminsky on the defensive end. And certainly the Badgers didn’t blow anyone away with their defensive work today. But when you’re in a spot where it feels like you can’t miss from the field, you can beat anybody.

Star of the GameFrank Kaminsky. Arizona just didn’t have any answers for Frank the Tank. He started out the game by drawing two fouls on Brandon Ashley in the span of two possessions. Arizona then went to Kaleb Tarczewski and Kaminsky was able to either pull him out to the perimeter or face him up and go past him. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson got the next crack and, despite good effort, struggled while giving up five inches to the center. For the second straight season, Arizona had no good answer for Kaminsky’s versatility. While Dekker’s explosion in the second half was stunning, it was Kaminsky’s ability to draw the attention of Arizona’s defense that helped open that space for Dekker. In two years against Arizona, Kaminsky played 75 minutes and scored 57 points, grabbed 17 boards, and shot a 55% eFG.

Sights & Sounds. Stoked Staples. On Thursday night, Staples Center was a morgue. Despite two tight Sweet Sixteen games, the noise in the NBA arena rarely rose above a murmur. Today? Goodness. From start to finish, the place was electric. Tons of Arizona fans were in full throat to be sure, but plenty of Wisconsin fans as well. From the tip it felt like every possession was do or die. All sorts of interesting matchups on the floor. Both teams attacking each other in the paint. It was like two seasoned heavyweights standing right in the middle of the ring going toe to toe from round one on.

Wildcard. Free Throws. In 40 minutes of action we were treated to 43 fouls called and 61 free throws. The teams combined to shoot 86.9 percent from the line, with Arizona specifically shooting a blistering 93.3 percent.


  • Sam Dekker, on the Badgers’ mindset: “Last year we said ‘Why not us?’ and this year we’re saying ‘Let’s make them believe again.’”
  • Sean Miller, on his fourth Elite Eight loss in seven seasons: “I’m not going to apologize for going 34-4. And I’m not going to apologize for not making a Final Four.

What’s Next? Wisconsin advances to its second straight Final Four where they’ll in all likelihood get their second straight NCAA Tournament rematch. Last year, Kentucky eliminated the Badgers on an Aaron Harrison three with 5.7 seconds remaining. As for Arizona, that makes five straight losses in the Elite Eight. Next year’s Wildcats will look quite different. T.J. McConnell’s career in the desert is done. Stanley Johnson likely will leave to become an NBA lottery pick. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson may also be in the same boat. The Wildcats will still be one of the favorites in the Pac-12 but they may need to wait a year or two before they have as good of a crack to finally break back through into the Final Four.

AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

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