After losing in last years NCAA National semifinals, the Wisconsin Badgers we’re looking for two things this year. They wanted to play for and win a National Championship and hoped to have a chance to return the favor to the Wildcats along the way.
One of the two was accomplished on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium, when the Badgers came from behind in the final minutes to beat Kentucky 71-64, handing the Wildcats their first loss of the season. They now look to take on goal #2 when they play for the National title on Monday night (8:18 p.m.) against Duke.
Wisconsin (36-3) advanced to the title game for the first time under coach Bo Ryan. They’ll try to avenge a loss to Duke (34-4) earlier this season. The Blue Devils knocked off Michigan State 81-61 in the first semifinal last night.
Frank Kaminsky, who was held to eight points in the loss last season to Kentucky, scored nine in the first half alone on Saturday night. College basketball’s player of the year scored 11 more in the second half and finished with a game high 20 points.
Sam Dekker added 16 points. His biggest basket came with 1:41 left to play with the score tied at 60. He fired a step back three and the Badgers would never trail again.
Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig added 12 points each as the Badgers hit 47.9% from the field and 41.2% from three-point range.
Freshman center Karl-Anthony Towns led Kentucky with 16 points.
The Badgers had a 9 point lead in the first half and a 8-point lead in the second half, but Kentucky battled back both times. It was one of the most entertaining games in the entire tournament.
The Badgers game plan was to control the boards and they did that, out-rebounding the Wildcats 34-22.
Saturday’s game marks the third time the Badgers have come from behind to win in the tournament. The Badgers also trailed North Carolina and Arizona.
Bo Ryan will now attempt to add his first Division 1 title. He’s already won the NCAA Division 3 title at Platteville four times.
The Badgers will be looking for their first NCAA National Title since 1941.