SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Slowly but surely, Wisconsin lured another
speed-loving opponent into playing its deliberate pace.
Mark Vershaw scored 15 points as the eighth-seeded Badgers upset
No. 1 seed Arizona 66-59 on Saturday to advance to the final 16 for
the first time since the NCAA Tournament went to its current
"It's indescribable to come in as the eighth seed and beat
Arizona," Wisconsin's Andy Kowske said. "We started the Big Ten
1-4, and to go to the Sweet 16 is unbelievable."
The Wildcats (27-7) are the first No. 1 seed in two years to
lose in the second round, where they hadn't been beaten since 1990.
The only other time Arizona scored so few points this season was in
an 86-60 loss at Louisiana State, which will face Wisconsin in next
week's West Regional semifinals in Albuquerque, N.M.
"They made us play out of our game and do things we aren't used
to," Arizona's Richard Jefferson said.
The Badgers (20-13) hadn't won two games in an NCAA Tournament
since winning the national championship in 1941.
"I'm not sure I can adequately describe how good we feel or how
proud I am of this team," Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett said.
"They accepted the game plan and employed it as close to perfect
as humanly possible."
Freshman Gilbert Arenas led the Wildcats with 21 points. Five
times they closed within six points in the final 1:51 only to have
Wisconsin reserve Maurice Linton answer.
Linton scored nine of his 14 points in the final 2:57, when the
Wildcats hit three 3-pointers, but still couldn't catch the
"Since the season began, I've been working on taking what the
defense gives me," he said. "Of all the shots I took today,
nothing was forced."
At the buzzer, the Badgers mobbed each other, with guard Mike
Kelley leaping into Vershaw's arms. The team stayed on the floor,
shouting to the small group of Badgers fans as the band blared.
"It's a scene that we just haven't had much at Wisconsin. It
was quite a celebration and it's so great to be a part of it,"
Vershaw said. "It's a feeling you can't know until it's happened
The Wildcats, who favor an uptempo pace, had a 6-4 record when
scoring in the 60s this season, but they were limited to 39 percent
field-goal shooting against the nation's fourth-best scoring
"We're not the most physically gifted bunch of folks," Kowske
said. "We know our limits, but our team concept helps, especially
Sat, March 18
Loren Woods didn't play against Stanford, but Richard Jefferson did.
Woods didn't play against Wisconsin and Jefferson barely did.
The Wildcats had no shot against Wisconsin without Jefferson and
Woods on the floor. Jefferson was plagued by foul problems, sitting out
most of the game with three fouls. He didn't foul out, but only scored seven points.
The knock on Arizona was that Luke Walton and Justin Wessel
couldn't replace Woods. It turns out they couldn't substitute for Jefferson, either.
Walton scored only one point; Wessel scored six. Arizona was in trouble
the moment Jefferson got into foul trouble.
The Wildcats went into the tournament as the weakest and most vulnerable No. 1 seed. Losing to Wisconsin shouldn't be a surprise. This was bound to happen once Woods went down, even with the wins over Stanford on the résumé.
Two years ago, No. 8 seed Rhode Island shocked No. 1 seed Kansas
80-75 in the Midwest Regional.
The Wildcats, who were national champions in 1997, got beat on
the same Huntsman Center court where they were surprised by Santa
Clara in the first round of the 1993 tournament in a game where
both teams scored in the 60s.
"It was a tough lesson to learn," Arizona coach Lute Olson
said. "It was very obvious that the better team won this game from
the standpoint of maturity and toughness."
With the Badgers dictating their favorite slow pace, the
Wildcats missed 7-foot-1 center Loren Woods, who is sidelined by a
Woods would have established more of an inside presence against
the Wisconsin frontline of 6-foot-9 Vershaw and 6-8 Kowske, who had
10 points and 12 rebounds, including 10 defensive boards.
Michael Wright and Jefferson, both 6-7 sophomores expected to
fill in for Woods, were stifled by Wisconsin's defense. Wright had
two points in 37 minutes and Jefferson seven points and four fouls
in 16 minutes.
"They came out and played real physical and wouldn't allow me
to establish myself down low," Wright said. "I had to work so
hard just to get the ball."
The Wildcats controlled the boards 37-26, including a 17-6 edge
offensively, but they were forced to rely on seven predominantly
underclass scholarship players.
"Tournament basketball is certainly different from
regular-season basketball, the hype, the pressure and so forth,"
Bennett said. "I'm very impressed with the job coach Olson has
done, but freshmen hit the wall at some point. Without seniors,
The Badgers, who play a mostly junior lineup, stretched a
five-point halftime advantage into a 41-27 lead by outscoring the
Wildcats 13-4 to open the second half. Kowske scored eight points
in the spurt, and the Badgers benefited from three miscues by
Arizona freshman Luke Walton, the son of former UCLA star Bill
Kowske dunked over Walton, who then fouled Jon Bryant. Kelley
then stole the ball from Walton, and Kowske scored on a tip-in of
"Our freshmen and sophomores can really learn an awful lot from
what happened," Olson said.
Rick Anderson stopped the onslaught with a 3-pointer, Arenas hit
one free throw and Juston Wessel scored off Arenas' second miss to
draw the Wildcats within 10 with 10:13 remaining.
Wisconsin ran off seven straight points, capped by Duany Duany's
dunk off a steal, to take a 50-33 lead.
Anderson scored seven straight to cut Arizona's deficit to 50-40
with 6:36 remaining.
Jason Gardner and Jefferson hit consecutive 3-pointers, but
Linton kept mixing jumpers and free throws down the stretch.
Kelley, a two-time Big Ten defensive player of the year, had
five of Wisconsin's 10 steals, including one against Jefferson in
the final two minutes that killed Arizona's comeback hopes.
|Arizona's Luke Walton finds the going tough against the Badgers' Mark Vershaw.||
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