Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker sink the Arizona Wildcats in the West Regional final. No, this isnâ€™t the flashback to the 2014 NCAA tournament, rather the same two Badgers put their team on their backs and led Wisconsin to an 85-78 victory.
The win means back-to-back Final Four appearances for the Badgers, who could see a rematch of their Final Four appearance next season if Kentucky can get by Notre Dame in the nightcap.
Kaminsky once again led the Badgers in scoring versus Arizona, putting up 29 points this time around. Dekker made a much bigger contribution on this Saturday than last season, pouring in 27 points on the night.
However, the duo did most of its damage in the second half, especially Dekker. The Badgers wing couldnâ€™t miss from deep in the second half and it sparked him to a career highlight of a night.
Sam Dekker's second half: 20 points, 6-of-6 FGs, 5-of-5 3FGs, 3-3 FTs
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) March 29, 2015
The Badgers have started slow in each of the last three NCAA tournament games, but that wasnâ€™t goig to be the case against Arizona. Wisconsin used some really good defense and got the Wildcats in to early foul trouble for a 10-2 run to start the game.
Kaminsky was the big story, putting up 5 points in the first 7 minutes of action.Â However, three of those first five points came from the line and he was just 1 for his first 6 from the field.
After a Kaleb Tarczewski dunk on Kaminsky later in the half, the Badgersâ€™ big man woke up and began to take things over for UW on both ends of the floor. He finished the first half with 13 points and five rebounds on 5 of 13 shooting.
The rest of the team apparently took the field goal shooting to heart, as Wisconsin finished the first half shooting just 38.5 percent from the field. Kaminsky had five field goals, and the rest of the team had five combined makes in the first half.
Wisconsin's effective FG% in the first half was 42.3%. That would be the #Badgers 2nd worst game % of the season (40.3% vs. Marquette)
— Dave Heller (@dave_heller) March 28, 2015
After the Wildcatsâ€™ slow start, they heated up and ended up shooting 54.5 percent on the half (12-22).
Wisconsin also allowed Arizona to get going inside and as a result to the free throw line more than usual, with the Wildcats hitting all eight of their free throw attempts and holding a 20-5 advantage in points in the paint.
Yet, despite the disparity in all those numbers, the Badgers were in the same position they were in last season â€” down three to the Wildcats at the half.
Wisconsin wanted to come out and attack Arizonaâ€™s defense inside in the second half, and thatâ€™s exactly what happened early on as Kaminsky took over inside. He started with a triple and then continued to draw fouls while pounding the ball inside.
He picked up seven points in less than three minutes thanks to the triple and his free throw shooting.
The second half felt a lot like the first, as the Badgers came out hot and Arizona couldnâ€™t hit a shot.
#Badgers open the half with an 11-2 run - lead 41-34
â€” Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) March 28, 2015
After going 0-3 to start the second half, Arizona made 5 of the next 6 shots and turned a potentially big Badgers lead in to a two-point lead.
Kaminsky had help in the second half though, as Dekker joined the three-point parade and had six points in the first four minutes of the half. He hit three triples in the first five minutes and went 5 of 6 for the game to give the Badgersâ€™ big man enough help down the stretch.
Wisconsin finished the game with 12 made three-pointers, 10 more than the Wildcats made on the night.
Dekker put the exclamation point on the victory by hitting a fall-away rainbow three with the shot clock expiring and barely any look at the rim. Such was the hot-streak Dekker was on in the second half.
He finished the game 8 of 11 from the field and also pulled in five rebounds in the winning effort.
Arizona just couldnâ€™t counter 10 made three-pointers, even if they got to the line 30 times in the game and made 28 free throws of their own. The Badgers also helped themselves with some timely defensive stops and turned them in to major points when needed.
Final Four selfie! #Badgers #MakeEmBelieve #OnWisconsin pic.twitter.com/voLaQNBsuM
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) March 29, 2015
Wisconsin moves on to Indianapolis for the Final Four, making just the fourth appearance in the national semi-finals in school history.