Sam Dekker posted 23 points and 10 rebounds as the Badgers topped the Tar Heels 79-72 in the West Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament in Los Angeles.
Frank Kaminsky added 19 points and eight boards as top-seeded Wisconsin moved on to the Elite Eight, where it will attempt to reach the Final Four for the second straight season Saturday against No. 2 Arizona or sixth-seeded Xavier. Nigel Hayes contributed 12 points and Bronson Koenig added nine for the Badgers (34-3), who went 20-of-23 from the foul line and committed only five turnovers.
Fourth-seeded North Carolina (26-12) turned the ball over only four times and went 8-of-13 from 3-point range, including three apiece from Justin Jackson (15 points) and Marcus Paige (12). Brice Johnson added 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting for the Tar Heels, who were outrebounded 35-28.
The Badgers trailed by seven with 10 1/2 minutes to go before an extended 19-7 push put them up 65-60, and they led by five until Paige drained a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to get the Tar Heels within 71-70 with 54.1 seconds to play. Koenig, Hayes and Kaminsky combined to go 8-of-8 from the line in the final 42 seconds, while two missed foul shots by Isaiah Hicks and an airballed 3-pointer by Paige sealed North Carolina’s fate.
The Tar Heels led 33-28 – the largest lead for either team in the first half – before Wisconsin got within two on a late layup by Dekker, who shot 6-of-8 for 15 points in the opening 20 minutes. North Carolina led by two with 13 1/2 minutes left in the second half, when Jackson made a jumper, Joel Berry II drained a 3-pointer and Paige knocked down a shot on consecutive trips to create a 51-44 cushion.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Wisconsin PG Traevon Jackson returned after missing the previous 19 games with a foot injury. He made a 3-pointer on his first shot attempt and finished 1-of-3 for four points off the bench. … North Carolina F Kennedy Meeks, the team’s third-leading scorer who sprained his knee in the round of 32, shot 1-of-4 and finished with four points and four rebounds. … Dekker, who went 10-of-15 from the field, posted his first double-double of the season.