Originally created 03/19/00

Wisconsin knocks of top seed Arizona



SALT LAKE CITY -- 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 format.

The Wildcats (27-7) are the first No. 1 seed in two years to lose in the second round, where they hadn't lost since 1990.

The Badgers (20-13) hadn't won a second-round game under the current 64-team format. They were NCAA champions in 1941 when it took just three games to win the title.

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 overcome after trailing virtually the entire game.

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.

The Wildcats had a 6-4 record when scoring in the 60s this season, but they were limited to 49 percent field-goal shooting against the nation's fourth-best scoring defense.

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.

With the Badgers dictating their favorite slow pace, the Wildcats missed 7-foot-1 center Loren Woods, who is sidelined by a back injury.

Woods would have established more of an inside presence against the Wisconsin frontline of 6-foot-9 Vershaw and 6-8 Andy Kowske, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds, including 10 defensive boards.

Michael Wright and Richard Jefferson, both 6-7 sophomores expected to fill in for Woods, were stifled by Wisconsin's defense. Wright had two points and Jefferson seven.

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.

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.

Kowske dunked over Walton, who then fouled Jon Bryant. Kelley then stole the ball from Walton, and Kowske scored on a tip-in of Kelley's miss.

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.