Men’s basketball Elite Eight breakdown: Wisconsin vs. Arizona

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first_imgLOS ANGELES — Members of the Wisconsin men’s basketball team filed out of the locker room and back onto the floor of the Staples Center to meet the hugs, smiles and cheers of family members.What they accomplished roughly an hour before on that court had never been done in school history: back-to-back Final Four appearances — both after defeating Arizona. Now, the Badgers head to Indianapolis next weekend to take on Kentucky with a spot in the national title game on the line for the second year in a row.It felt like the Badgers didn’t miss the entire second half — one half removed from a 38 percent shooting performance. In the final 20 minutes, Wisconsin was a blistering 15-of-19 from the field, including 10-of-12 from three.Junior forward Sam Dekker led that Wisconsin charge, scoring 20 points in the second half on 5-of-5 shooting from downtown. Senior forward Frank Kaminsky was a workhorse on the low block the entire game, dropping 29 points, one more than he did in last year’s Elite Eight contest against Arizona.The Badgers trailed by three at halftime, but Kaminsky came out of the half and immediately knocked down a three. The Wildcats led for only 19 seconds the rest of the way, and Wisconsin led from the 19:16 mark on.In the first half, the Badgers got out to a 10-2 lead, but Arizona clawed back, leading by as much as five late in the half.Turning PointWith 13:48 remaining in the game, Wisconsin held onto a one-point lead at 47-46. Then, Dekker knocked down one of his five three-pointers, which sparked a 10-2 run that put the Badgers in the driver’s seat the rest of the game.Sophomore point guard Bronson Koenig hit two free throws, and then sophomore forward Nigel Hayes drained a three. Then, Kaminsky went to work on the block and laid it in for a 57-50 lead with 10:34 to play.Play of the Game … Also When You Knew It Was OverThe Wildcats hung around and trailed by just five with 51 seconds left. Wisconsin then exhausted the shot clock, and Sam Dekker found himself in the right corner with the shot clock winding down.Dekker elevated over Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and threw up a prayer three.Nothing but net. Onions.The Badgers took an 84-76 lead after the make, and with 17 seconds remaining, Dekker had shot Wisconsin from Los Angeles to Indianapolis.Wisconsin Player of the Game: Sam DekkerWhether he was driving or pulling up, Sam Dekker was dominant in everything he did, especially in the second half.Dekker scored 20 of his career-high 29 points in the final 20 minutes. He made every three-pointer he attempted in the half (5-of-5), and scored 11 of Wisconsin’s final 13 points.Dekker’s drive in the waning seconds of the first half brought the Badgers within three after he got fouled and made both shots from the free throw line. He finished 6 of 7 from the charity stripe.Dekker was named the West Region’s Most Outstanding Player.Arizona Player of the Game: Rondae Hollis-JeffersonHollis-Jefferson led the Wildcats in scoring with 17 points (tied for the team-high with Brandon Ashley). The sophomore forward was 6-of-12 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line.Hollis-Jefferson grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. He was also a victim of Dekker’s unconsciousness, as he was the defender Dekker drained his last three over.Frank Consistent At LineMore than a third of Kaminsky’s points came at the free-throw line, as he was 10 of 12 from there on Saturday. In Wisconsin’s Sweet 16 game against North Carolina, he was a perfect 8-for-8 at the line, meaning he shot 90 percent from the charity stripe during his last two games.Kaminsky was named to the all-West Regional team.Gasser With Small Stats But Big ResultsFifth-year senior guard Josh Gasser, aka Captain America, played the unsung hero again in Wisconsin’s 10th straight victory.Gasser was 3-for-4 from the field, including 2 of3 from behind the arc. His first three came three minutes and 47 seconds into the game and capped off Wisconsin’s explosive start, putting the team out front 10-2.His second three was the first of many daggers the Badgers threw at the Wildcats, coming with 5:14 left in the game and gave Wisconsin an 11-point lead with at 70-59.Gasser finished with 10 points and earned all-West Regional team honors for his efforts this weekend.Hayes Runs Into Foul TroubleFoul trouble caused Nigel Hayes to only play 26 minutes on Saturday, when he scored eight points.Hayes picked up his third foul just 25 seconds into the half and sat until the 12:52 mark. With 6:07 remaining in the game, Hayes picked up his fourth and went to the bench again.Hayes was 2-of-4 from three-point range and grabbed eight rebounds.Fifth-year senior forward Duje Dukan subbed for Hayes and played 18 minutes, scoring five points.QuotableBo Ryan on the second-half shooting success, when Wisconsin went 15-of-19 from the floor:“You don’t shoot 79 percent every day in a half. But they were good shots and probably shouldn’t have missed the other four.”Ryan on State Street celebrations:“Anybody hearing anything about State Street tonight? Is everything okay? Last year everybody got a little excited.”Josh Gasser on Sam Dekker’s final, arcing three-pointer:“It felt like the ball was in the air forever from my standpoint … I’ve seen him make that play hundreds of times [in practice or shooting around].”Associate head coach Greg Gard on Dekker’s performance:“Today he got in a groove and he was feeling it. The one thing was when he attacked the basket and got to the free throw line, that got his mojo going a little bit.”Nigel Hayes on not losing confidence:“You can’t lose confidence, as you see me sitting in the wonderful locker of Kobe Bryant. He’s never one to lose confidence in himself. He actually had a quote where he said he’d rather go 0-30 than 0-9 because that means you lost confidence in yourself.Duje Dukan on advancing to consecutive Final Fours:“We’ve been there before and now it’s just a matter of taking care of business. Last year it was kind of like we were happy to be there. This year it’s we expected to be there and now we have to take care of business.”last_img

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