ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Nick Johnson couldn't make a shot for the first 37 minutes of Arizona's nail-biting West Regional semifinal against San Diego State.
The Wildcats survived because Johnson couldn't miss a free throw when it mattered most.
The Pac-12 player of the year scored all 15 of his points in the final 2:44, carrying top-seeded Arizona through the tense final minutes of a 70-64 victory over the Aztecs on Thursday night.
The Wildcats (33-4) advanced to face second-seeded Wisconsin (29-7), which routed Baylor 69-52 with a fraction of the struggle.
Arizona and the Badgers both ended up in the same place: One win away from their coaches' first trips to the Final Four. Wisconsin's Bo Ryan has never been there in a 700-win coaching career, while Sean Miller is in a regional final for the third time in his much shorter career.
Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also scored 15 points apiece for the Wildcats, who rallied from a second-half deficit and gutted out a win in a raucous Honda Center packed with fans of both West Coast powers.
Johnson struggled with his shot all night, missing his first 10 field goal attempts. But he made his final two shots before going 10 for 10 at the line in the final 91 seconds, keeping the Wildcats on track for their second win over the Aztecs (31-5) this season.
"I've had a few games like this this year," said Johnson, the Wildcats' top scorer this season with 16.3 points per game. "It's unfortunately been our losses, so I just try to stay with it. ... When I hit one shot, it just started to feel a little bit better. I just kept on hitting shots."
Johnson finally scored on an electric sequence that had Arizona's fans on their feet, making a fast-break layup after a steal by T.J. McConnell. The bucket gave the Wildcats a five-point lead, and Johnson added a 3-pointer on Arizona's next possession with 1:52 to play.