Wild, Wild West

March 18, 2000

Call it the Wild West Regional.

Wisconsin stopped Arizona, Gonzaga knocked off St. John's and Purdue beat Oklahoma to make it a clean sweep of the top three seeds in the suddenly wide-open regional.

Mark Vershaw scored 15 points as eighth-seeded Wisconsin upset top-seeded Arizona 66-59 on Saturday in Salt Lake City.

On Arizona's home floor in Tucson, Matt Santangelo scored 26 points as No. 10 Gonzaga beat No. 2 St. John's 82-76, and Jaraan Cornell scored 13 of his 15 points in the final 9:30 in No. 6 Purdue's 66-62 victory over No. 3 Oklahoma.

Wisconsin successfully slowed the pace against speedy Arizona.

"I'm not sure I can adequately describe how good we feel or how proud I am of this team," coach Dick Bennett said. "They accepted the game plan and employed it as close to perfect as humanly possible. To defend a good shooting team like Arizona is something I'll remember for a long, long time."

The Badgers limited the Wildcats to 39 percent shooting.

"It was a tough lesson to learn," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "It was very obvious that the better team won this game from the standpoint of maturity and toughness."

Maurice Linton scored nine of his 14 points in the final 2:57 for the Badgers (20-13), who won two games in an NCAA tournament for the first time since winning the national championship in 1941.

Arizona (27-7), the 1997 champion, is the first No. 1 seed to lose in the second round since Rhode Island beat Kansas in the 1998 Midwest Regional.

Freshman Gilbert Arenas led the Wildcats with 21 points.

In the regional semifinals Thursday in Albuquerque, N.M., Wisconsin will face fourth-seeded LSU, and Gonzaga will play Purdue. LSU beat Texas 72-67 in Salt Lake City.

Gonzaga, which reached the West final a year ago as the 10th seed, shouldn't be considered a sleeper anymore.

"We're still fighting for respect," Santangelo said. "Any label you put on us means we're still playing and we're still winning. That's what counts right now."

Santangelo made 6-of-10 3-pointers, including three in the final eight minutes as the Bulldogs (26-8) pulled away.

Erick Barkley led St. John's (25-8) with 21 points.

Purdue reached the final 16 for the second straight year.

Greg McQuay led the Boilermakers (23-9) with 16 points. Nolan Johnson had 20 points for Oklahoma (27-7).

Stromile Swift had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Brian Beshara came up with a big steal with just over a minute to play for LSU. The fourth-seeded Tigers (28-5) have won 12 of their last 13 games.

It was tied at 60 at the three-minute mark, but LSU scored the next six points. Bright split the Texas defense for a layup, Swift scored over Texas' Gabe Muoneke, and Beshara made two free throws after intercepting a pass in the Longhorns' backcourt.

Ivan Wagner led Texas (24-9) with 19 points.

By The Associated Press



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