Florida, Wisconsin earn berths to Final Four

The Florida Gators celebrate  with the trophy with head coach Billy Donovan after defeating the Dayton Flyers 62-52 in the South Regional final of the NCAA Tourney Saturday night at FedExForum in Memphis.
Nelson Chenault | USA Today Sports
The Florida Gators celebrate with the trophy with head coach Billy Donovan after defeating the Dayton Flyers 62-52 in the South Regional final of the NCAA Tourney Saturday night at FedExForum in Memphis.
Posted March 29, 2014, at 8:46 p.m.
Last modified March 29, 2014, at 11:55 p.m.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Guard Scottie Wilbekin tied his career high with 23 points as top-seeded Florida proved to be too much for 11th-seeded Dayton, 62-52, on Saturday night in the NCAA South Regional Final at FedExForum to earn a berth in the Final Four.

Florida (36-2) won its 30th consecutive game.

This is the school’s fifth trip to the Final Four and the fourth under coach Billy Donovan, who won his 450th game at Florida in 18 seasons.

Wilbekin, who was voted the South Regional’s Most Outstanding Player, hit 3-of-5 3-pointers and scored eight of Florida’s 21 points at the free-throw line. Dayton scored only six points from the line.

The Gators controlled the paint, outscoring Dayton, 24-18, inside and outrebounded the Flyers, 37-26.

Center Patric Young had 12 points and six rebounds for Florida, guard Michael Frazier II scored 10 points and forward Dorian Finney-Smith pulled down nine rebounds to go with five points.

Dayton (26-11) reached the Elite Eight for the first time in 30 years.

Trailing by 14 points at halftime, the Flyers opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to 38-30 at the 18:52 mark, when Donovan called a quick timeout.

Florida then went on a 15-6 run to hike its lead to 53-36 at 11:25.

Dayton made one last charge as forward Dyshawn Pierre, who had 18 points, scored nine straight for his team and got the Flyers to within 58-50 with 3:55 to play.

But the Flyers never drew closer.

Flyers forward Devin Oliver finished with 12 points and six rebounds.

Florida shot 37. 5 percent (18-for-48), and Dayton shot 38.6 percent (19-for-48).

Florida led, 38-24, at halftime, closing on a 19-3 run that took the Gators from down two points at 21-19 with 6:28 to play, to solid command of the game.

The half ended with Gators guard Scottie Wilbekin holding the ball for the last shot, and then off the dribble rising and hitting a straight-way 3-pointer over a Dayton defender.

Wilbekin led all scorers with 14 first-half points

Dayton, which shot 31 percent for the half and 40 percent from 3-point range (4-for-10), missed the first four 3-pointers it took. But forward Devin Oliver’s trey at the 12:53 mark, cut Florida’s lead to 13-10, and started a string of four straight 3-pointers by the Flyers.

The last of those, from freshman guard Scoochie Smith, gave the Flyers their only lead, at 21-19. It finished an 8-0 Dayton run.

Dayton had a 12-5 edge in bench points through the first 20 minutes. The Gators outscored the Flyers, 18-6, in the paint for the half.

Wisconsin 64, Arizona 63

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky scored 28 points, including six in overtime, as the Badgers beat top-seeded Arizona 64-63 in overtime at the Honda Center on Saturday night to advance to their first Final Four since 2000.

Kaminsky, who also had 11 rebounds, scored on a layup, a hook shot and then a tip-in with one minute left in overtime for a 64-61 lead.

Arizona guard Jordin Mayes’ offensive rebound and layup cut the lead the one and Arizona had a chance to take the last shot after Wisconsin guard Traevon Jackson missed a layup.

Point guard T.J. McConnell missed an 18-footer, but forward Aaron Gordon tipped the rebound back to McConnell. Guard Nick Johnson, the Pac-12 Player of the Year who ended up with the ball on the drive, was called for an offensive foul with 3.2 seconds left as Arizona coach Sean Miller looked on in disbelief.

There was a delay of several minutes as officials reviewed the ensuing inbounds play, as Jackson and Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson battled for a ball that went out of bounds. Officials reversed the call to give the ball to Arizona.

Guard Gabe York gave the inbounds pass to Johnson, who dribbled to his left in search of a shot, but his 15-footer, which missed, came after the buzzer.

Kaminksy hit 3 of 5 3-point shots, showing off his inside-outside skills. Jackson was the only other Badger in double-figures with 10 points.

Coach Bo Ryan, who has taken the Badgers to 13 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, will be making his first appearance in the Final Four. The Badgers (30-7) will play the Kentucky-Michigan winner.

Arizona (33-5) was trying to reach its first Final Four since losing to Duke in the 2001 national title game. The Wildcats have lost their four regional finals and are 0-4 overall in regional finals in Anaheim.

Johnson led Arizona with 16 points. Hollis-Jefferson scored 10. Gordon had a career-high 18 rebounds to go with eight points.

With Arizona trailing 54-52 in the final minute of regulation and the shot clock at about 5, Johnson put up a contested 15-foot air-ball that Hollis-Jefferson grabbed and dunked with 30.9 seconds left. Wisconsin had the last shot, but Jackson missed a step-back 18-footer in the final seconds.

In a controlled game that was almost exclusively played in the half-court, neither team was able to gain big momentum swings, although Arizona put together a key 8-0 run after falling behind 41-36. Johnson capped the run with a 3-pointer for a 44-41 lead with 10:24 left.

Back came the Badgers, who went up 50-48 on Kaminsky’s 3-pointer with 4:22 left, and the rest of the game played out as a tense grind.

Hollis-Jefferson tied the score at 50 on a contorted scoop layup, Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser scored on a tip-in and then Gordon responded with a reverse layup, his first field goal in nine tries, leading to the dramatic final minutes.

Neither defense gives up much easy — and neither offense is turnover-prone — so there was little in the way of the transition game in the first half. Arizona won the early battle of set offenses, never trailing and taking a 5-0 lead before Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker banked in a 3-pointer.

Arizona’s lead was at 19-14 during a timeout with 7:59 left, when Ryan was assessed a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. Johnson made both foul shots and York hit one of two from the line for a 22-14 edge.

Arizona led 28-20 before the Badgers scored the final five points of the half and had a chance to tie on a late 3-point attempt by Jackson.

Center Kaleb Tarczewski scored eight first-half points to lead Arizona, which did not make a field goal in the final 3:55 before the break.

SEE COMMENTS →

View stories by school

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business

Similar Articles

More in Sports