Sports

Wisconsin tops Arizona again to reach Final Four

Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and the Wisconsin Badgers are headed back to the Final Four.

Once again, it came at the expense of Arizona.

Kaminsky's dominance inside, Dekker's clutch shooting and a plus-30 differential from 3-point range helped Wisconsin beat Arizona 85-78 in Saturday's West Region final.

Kaminsky scored 28 points in last year's overtime win over Arizona that propelled the Badgers to the Final Four, where they ultimately lost to national runner-up Kentucky. The 7-footer netted 29 in this one.

Dekker added 27 points, including 10 in the game's final 3:36.

"I was put in a position to hit some shots, and they went down for me," said Dekker, who credited point guard Bronson Koenig for getting him good looks.

Wisconsin made 10 3-pointers in the second half, missing only twice from long range. Arizona hit just two the entire game.

The Badgers (35-3) will take on Kentucky for a second straight season next week in Indianapolis with a trip to the title game on the line. The unbeaten Wildcats rallied past Notre Dame on Saturday to win the Midwest Region.

Wisconsin quickly turned a three-point halftime deficit into a lead, with Kaminsky and Dekker making 3s on the first two possessions. Kaminsky added a three-point play and two free throws, and Duje Dukan hit from deep to give the Badgers a 44-36 lead at 16:36.

The margin reached 11 points four times in the second half, and fouls came into play down the stretch.

Arizona went 4 1/2 minutes without a field goal, but stayed within striking distance thanks to 11 free throws. After T.J. McConnell ended the field goal drought with a jumper at 3:05 and Koenig split a trip to the line for Wisconsin, Gabe York hit Arizona's second triple of the game to make it 76-71.

Out of a timeout, the Badgers were up against the shot clock, but Dekker bailed them out with a deep 3. The margin was five with less than a minute remaining when Dekker came through again, drilling an off-balance trey from the right wing to put the game out of reach.

"Arizona played hard, played well, played smart, played physical," said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. "That was a battle."

Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 17 points apiece to lead the Wildcats (34-4), who have lost in their last five Elite Eight appearances going back to 2003. McConnell added 14 points in his final college game.

"It's always hard to end a season, but especially when you have a great team like we have," said Arizona coach Sean Miller.

"I'd like to blame our players ... let me just tell you, Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky, they're really good."

Kaminsky scored the game's first five points and drew two quick fouls on Ashley. Wisconsin took a 10-2 lead before the first media timeout.

Kaleb Tarczewski switched onto Kaminsky with Ashley on the bench and forced misses on his next five shots. Ashley then returned to the court and scored six straight points to tie the game at 14 at 9:04.

Arizona took its first lead on a York 3-pointer with 3:15 remaining and led 33-30 at the break. The Wildcats led by three at halftime of last season's heartbreaker as well.

Game Notes

It was Wisconsin's first game of the season as a Vegas underdog ... It was the ninth time in NCAA Tournament history that two teams met in the Elite Eight in consecutive seasons, but only the second time where the same team won both matchups ... Josh Gasser scored 10 points for Wisconsin, which finished 12- of-18 from 3-point range. Dekker went 5-for-6 from distance ... Arizona shot 28-of-30 from the foul line ... Both teams shot better than 55 percent from the floor ... Arizona outscored Wisconsin 38-26 in the paint.