Arizona fell just short of the Final Four on Saturday night 64-63. Read on to find out how the game was lost, who played the best for Arizona, and more.
fell just short of the Final Four on Saturday night, losing to Wisconsin
64-63. Nick Johnson
could not get a final shot off and the season came to an abrupt halt in Anaheim. Here's an analysis of what happened:
Arizona Players of the Game:
Nick Johnson – Even though the final moments of the game were not his best of the night, Johnson was there when the Wildcats needed him down the stretch. The junior finished with a team-high 16 points, while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out 3 assists in what could be his last game wearing an Arizona uniform.
The Arizona Wildcats got ahead early on and started to pull away from Wisconsin. With eight minutes to go in the first half, Gabe York drove the land and forced Duje Dukan to pick up his second foul of the game. Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan was whistled for a technical foul and Arizona used the free throws to pull away with ah 22-14 lead.
Heading into halftime, Wisconsin made a run to cut the lead down to just three. With Arizona leading by eight, the Badgers made three of four free throws and Traevon Jackson rose above a defender to hit a short jump shot, giving his team a 5-0 run heading into the locker room. Arizona did not score in the final 2:54 of the half.
Arizona started the second half as poorly as it possibly could. T.J. McConnell picked up three fouls in three minutes, the Wildcats had three turnovers, and Wisconsin made five of its first nine shots in the first five minutes of the second half to take a 38-35 lead. Sean Miller called a timeout, trying to recoup his players with fifteen minutes to go in the game.
Wisconsin extended its lead to five before the Wildcats came roaring back. A missed opportunity by Frank Kaminsky led to a T.J. McConnell three-pointer and on the next possession, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson got into the action with a tip in, tying the game at 41.
Both teams traded baskets, but there may have been none that was bigger than Kaminksy's three pointer with four and a half minutes to go in the game. Tarczewski backed down to help on a screen and the Badger big man popped out, hitting a trey to take a 50-48 lead.
Hollis-Jefferson attacked the rim, making a circus shot and tying the game, Josh Gasser tipped in a ball for Wisconsin and Wisconsin had the lead again. That was when Aaron Gordon made his first field goal of the night, taking Kaminsky to the rack and tying the game once again with two minutes to go.
It was a Hollis-Jefferson dunk that sent the game to overtime as he jammed it home off a Johnson miss, tying the game. However, there were still 30 seconds remaining and Aaron Gordon rose to the challenge, shutting down Traevon Jackson and forcing overtime.
It was a hard fought overtime that came down to the final possessions of the game. Trailing by one, Johnson drove down the lane with just seconds remaining. There was initial contact from Jackson, but Johnson was eventually whistled for an offensive foul for using his off arm to create space, giving Wisconsin the ball with three seconds remaining.
Upon the next inbounds play, Hollis-Jefferson played tremendous defense, knocking the ball off of Jackson and out of bounds, giving the Wildcats one final shot. It was Johnson whose number was called as he got the ball at the top of the key and drove left, but he took one dribble too many and could not get the shot off in time, ending the game.
Stats of the Night:
28: Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky had 28 points in the win over Arizona. The Wildcats had no answer for him for most of the night and finally found a way to quiet him down late in the game. It was a huge night for the big man as he shot over fifty-percent from the field, including three long balls, and grabbed eleven rebounds.
It wasn't the outcome that anyone on Arizona's side wanted, but the season came to an end nevertheless. The Wildcats fought hard and came up just short. There isn't a bright side to ending the season with a loss and it will be a painful memory for years to come.
There are plenty of things to look back on and wonder, if the ball had just bounced this one direction on this one play, but a majority of the next eight months will be spent talking about the debatable charge whistle, Brandon Ashley's injury, and other factors.
For Jordin Mayes, likely Aaron Gordon, and possibly Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Nick Johnson, and Kaleb Tarczewski, the time at Arizona has come to an end, but the team will move on, adding several top recruits in an attempt to replace those that will be lost. The old adage goes, "There's always next year," and next year looks bright indeed.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"When you lose, it's like a car crashes," Miller said. "It's just you're done. I'm so proud of our team."
"We knew coming into this game that they had a variety of scorers," Johnson said. "All throughout the game we made their job tough. It just came down to one final play, but all the way around I am happy with my team's performance."