Campus Coverage: Arizona Wildacts knocked out of Elite 8
By: Jacob Cavanah
ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Arizona Wildcats have had a lot of exciting games throughout the tournament, and their 64-63 overtime Elite 8 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers was no different.
The officials reviewed an out of bounds call with 2.3 seconds left in overtime. They awarded the ball to the Wildcats, but they couldn't capitalize on it.
This game was competitive but there weren't any specific plays that really stood out, like forward Aaron Gordon's athletic dunks in prior games, but it started to get exciting at the end of regulation. Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky's three-pointer put the Badgers up 50-48; the Wildcats didn't let them get away that easy. Forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had a falling lay up that tied it at 50.
Wisconsin guard Traevon Jackson missed the game winning shot on a decent look as time expired.
Guard Ben Brust's three-pointer put the Badgers up 57-54 in overtime, and from that point on head coach Bo Ryan's team never looked back.
Gordon returned the favor by hitting a three to tie it but only to be followed by Kaminsky putting his team back on top. It was Kaminsky who solidified the Badger's victory with a put back off guard Josh Gasser's miss.
The game between the top two seeds West region went back and forth all game. Arizona has been used to winning in the second half, but this time it didn't have enough in the tank.
The Wildcats have let teams stick around late in games, as recent as their Sweet 16 win over the San Diego State Aztecs, and have still been able to win those games, but the Badgers weren't going to let up.
Ryan's team came out with intensity and matched the Wildcats level of play. Wisconsin was aggressive all game and didn't let the Wildcat's offense get going.
Gordon had a career high 18 rebounds, but he was limited to eight points. Hollis-Jefferson, who's been a huge part of Arizona's offensive production throughout the regular season and tournament, only had 10 points off the bench. Johnson led the team with 16, and the Wildcats had 8 assists as a team.
Kaminsky gave the Wildcats problems all game. Arizona didn't have an answer for his 28 points and 11 rebounds.
Arizona's historic season could've ended differently if it had forward Brandon Ashley; despite his absence head coach Sean Miller's team was able to carry on and keep winning games.
The team started 21-0 and its first loss, against the California Golden Bears Feb. 1, was after Ashley's injury.
The Wildcats had a great regular season and a wild ride in March. This team might be different next year, with Johnson and Gordon being draft prospects, but most of this year's playmakers are expected to return.
Expect Ashley to return for his junior year, along with center Kaleb Tarczewski. Guard T.J. McConnell is also expected to be back for his senior season.
A new player Arizona fans can look forward to watching is ESPN's No. 7 ranked player Tyler Dorsey. The 6-foot-4 guard from St. John Bosco, Calif. is a high profile recruit expected to Miller's team.
The Wildcats have a lot going for them. Their coach is renowned as one of the best, if not the best, coaches to not have a Final Four appearance.
Miller's younger brother's, Archie Miller, Dayton Flyers also lost in the Elite 8 Saturday. The Florida Gators beat them 62-52.