Five things: Badgers earn Final Four berth
March, 29, 2014
By C.L. Brown | ESPN.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Wisconsin earned its first Final Four appearance since 2000 with a 64-63 overtime win over Arizona in the West Region final. It also marks the first Final Four trip for Badgers coach Bo Ryan.
Here are five observations from the game:
Pace doesn’t matter when good basketball is being played. Sure, each team scored only 54 in regulation, but it wasn’t ugly basketball. There just weren’t a lot of open shots to go around. Arizona and Wisconsin had been ranked fifth and sixth among tournament teams, respectively, in second-half shooting. The Wildcats averaged 56.2 percent before Saturday, but shot just 40.7 percent against Wisconsin, not including overtime. The Badgers shot 53.8 percent before Saturday, but made just 37.0 percent against the Wildcats.
A big man battle was brewing until Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky simply took over. Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski made up for being in foul trouble and having little impact against San Diego State. He started off strong against Kaminsky, scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first half. Kaminsky, who also had eight points at the half, made four of his first five shots to start the second half. He accounted for nine of the Badgers' first 13 points, helping them take their first lead with 15:12 left in regulation. Kaminsky finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
Arizona’s Aaron Gordon proved you don’t have to score to impact a game. Gordon struggled in the same fashion that Nick Johnson did against San Diego State. He missed his first eight shot attempts and had one point until making his first basket with 2:32 left in the second half. But Gordon still managed to be very effective. His 18 rebounds were a career high, beating his previous best of 15 against Stanford on March 2. He added two blocked shots, including swatting Nigel Hayes' chance to give the Badgers a lead midway through the second half. He got switched off on a pick against Wisconsin’s Traevon Jackson on the final possession of regulation and forced Jackson into a missed jumper.
Role players came up big in crucial situations. Bronson Koenig didn’t even play in Wisconsin's regional semifinal win over Baylor. He scored his only two baskets in the second half, including the jumper that gave the Badgers their first lead. Arizona's Jordin Mayes' tip-in with 58 seconds left in overtime pulled the Wildcats within one to put them in position to win.
It sure would be great to have officials wearing microphones for tournament games. Ryan was given a technical foul in the first half while his team was huddling during a timeout. It seemed similar to when Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski received a technical in the ACC tournament championship game for throwing his pen at the bench. Speaking of the Blue Devils, Tony Greene called Johnson for a charge with three seconds left in overtime. He is the same official who called Syracuse’s C.J. Fair for a charge in the final seconds at Duke.