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Arizona fends off SDSU, to meet Wisconsin in West final

Anaheim, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - T.J. McConnell stripped the ball away from Winston Shepard near halfcourt, dove to retrieve it and alertly found Gabe York with a bounce pass from his back. York then left a pass for Nick Johnson, whose layup finally put him in the scoring column.

Johnson's second field goal less than a minute later was the dagger.

Johnson scored 15 of Arizona's final 16 points and the Wildcats advanced to the West Region Final of the NCAA Tournament following a 70-64 triumph over San Diego State on Thursday night.

The Pac-12 Player of the Year Johnson began 0-of-10 from the floor before his layup gave Arizona 56-51 lead with 2:44 left. After J.J. O'Brien made two foul shots, Johnson knocked down a right wing triple to extend the margin to 59-53 with 1:52 on the clock.

Johnson hit all 10 of his foul shots down the stretch to send top-seeded Arizona (33-4) to its first Elite Eight since 2011.

"When I hit one shot it just started to feel a little bit better," Johnson said. "I just kept on hitting shots."

The Wildcats will face second-seeded Wisconsin on Saturday for a trip to the Final Four. The Badgers routed sixth-seeded Baylor, 69-52, earlier Thursday.

Aaron Gordon had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 15 points and five boards for the Wildcats, who were playing in their third Sweet 16 in four years.

Arizona also defeated the Aztecs, 69-60, earlier this season on Nov. 14.

Xavier Thames netted 25 points to lead fourth-seeded San Diego State (31-5), which has never reached the Elite Eight. Dwayne Polee provided 13 points and Josh Davis pulled down 14 boards in defeat.

"One of these days we're going to get to a Final Four," SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said.

Back-to-back buckets by Shepard and Thames staked the Aztecs to a 40-32 advantage early in the second half before Arizona ripped off six straight. Hollis-Jefferson put in the first two baskets before Gordon reached back and threw down a ferocious one-handed dunk off an alley-oop pass by York to pull the Wildcats within 40-38 with 14:27 to go.

Arizona hadn't led since the 7:50 mark of the opening half until McConnell drove in for a layup to give it a 50-49 edge with 7:21 on the clock.

Earlier, neither team led by more than four until a 9-0 SDSU push. A Shepard jumper capped the swing and helped the Aztecs to a 29-22 cushion with 4:32 left in the first half.

The Aztecs took a 32-28 advantage into the break.

Game Notes

Arizona head coach Sean Miller joined his brother Archie in the Elite Eight. The younger Miller led 11th-seeded Dayton to an 82-72 victory over Stanford in the South Region semifinals ... SDSU outrebounded Arizona, 37-29.

03/28 09:43:21 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
WIN 3
CAR 1
9th
KAN 1
SFG 7
 
Final
MIA 90
HOU 85
Final
MIN 107
IND 89
Final
OKC 91
UTA 105
Final
DEN 75
POR 93
 
3rd
LAL 57
PHO 57
 
2nd
GSW 40
LAC 35
 
4th
LALAF 41
ARKST 26
 
Final
NJD 3
NYR 4
Final
BOS 5
SJS 3
Final
NYI 2
TOR 5
Final
MON 2
DET 1
Final
NAS 4
ARI 3
Final
WIN 3
CAR 1
Final
CHI 4
PHI 0
Final
DAL 6
VAN 3
3rd
COL 3
FLA 3
 
2nd Intermission
CAL 1
TAM 1