Jordan Taylor couldn’t hit a thing, missing open shots and contested ones from just about everywhere on the court.
He did so much more when it mattered, though, and Wisconsin is headed back to the Round of 16 because of him.
Taylor hit two big free throws and blocked Jacob Pullen’s 3-point attempt in the closing seconds to overcome a rough shooting night, lifting the Badgers to a 70-65 win over Kansas State last night in Tucson in a Southeast Regional third-round game.
Taylor shot just 2 of 16 but came up with the biggest play of the game, swatting Pullen’s tying attempt in the final seconds with Wisconsin up 3. Josh Gasser then hit two free throws to seal it, sending the fourth-seeded Badgers (25-8) into the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2000.
Jon Leuer led Wisconsin with 19 points and Keaton Nankivil added 12. Taylor finished with 12 points, 6 assists, no turnovers, and a big block.
Wisconsin moves on to face upset specialist Butler, a winner over top-seeded Pittsburgh, Thursday in New Orleans.
Pullen matched a career high with 38 points to break Mike Evans’s school career scoring mark (2,115 points), but walked away wiping tears with his jersey after a stellar four years in Manhattan. Curtis Kelly (11 points) was the only other player to score in double figures for No. 5 seed Kansas State (23-11).
Florida 73, UCLA 65 — Erving Walker, generously listed at 5 feet 8 inches, scored 21 points and hit several clutch shots down the stretch as the Gators beat the Bruins in a Southeast Regional game in Tampa.
Walker scored 10 of Florida’s final 12 points, including four free throws in the final 33 seconds. His most significant basket was a 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining.
That shot gave the second-seeded Gators (28-7) a 69-65 lead and forced No. 7 seed UCLA (23-11) into desperation mode.
UCLA wasted several chances from the free throw line, much like it did Thursday against Michigan State. The Bruins survived that one. They had no such luck against Florida, which advanced to the Round of 16. The Gators will play No. 3 seed BYU this week in New Orleans.
Kenny Boynton added 12 points and five assists for Florida. Alex Tyus chipped in 8 points and a season-high 13 rebounds.
Josh Smith and Reeves Nelson led UCLA with 16 points apiece.
Brigham Young 89, Gonzaga 67 — Jimmer Fredette made seven 3-pointers and scored 34 points to help the third-seeded Cougars roll past the Bulldogs in Denver and advance to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 30 years.
Fredette shot 7 for 12 from 3-point range, 11 for 23 overall, and after having trouble getting shots over Gonzaga’s tough defense in the first half, he found his rhythm in the second.
This is the deepest run for BYU (32-4) in the tournament since 1981, the year Danny Ainge went coast to coast for a last-second layup to beat Notre Dame in the Round of 16.
Elias Harris and Steven Gray had 18 points for the Bulldogs (25-10).
East Regional Kentucky 71, West Virginia 63 — Two days after his only basket helped the fourth-seeded Wildcats survive their tourney opener, freshman guard Brandon Knight led an 11-0 run coming out of halftime and made six free throws in the final minute to close out a win over the fifth-seeded Mountaineers in Tampa.
Kentucky (27-8) advanced to the East semifinals in Newark against No. 1 seed Ohio State or No. 8 seed George Mason.
West Virginia, which reached the Final Four a year ago by beating Kentucky in the regional final, led, 41-33, after closing the opening half on a 22-7 run. But Kentucky scored the first 11 points coming out of the break and eventually wore down the Mountaineers (22-12).
Josh Harrellson delivered 8 of his 15 points during the pivotal stretch of the second half for Kentucky.
Joe Mazzulla led West Virginia with 20 points, but the 6-3 senior guard only had 5 after halftime.
Southwest Regional Richmond 65, Morehead St. 48 — Justin Harper scored 19 points and Kevin Anderson added 14, helping the 12th-seeded Spiders knock off the Eagles in Denver and advance to the Round of 16 for the first time since 1988.
Richmond (29-7) will play the winner of Kansas-Illinois Friday in San Antonio.
Morehead State big man and NBA prospect Kenneth Faried, the all-time Division 1 rebounder in the modern era, was held to 11 points and 13 rebounds as the Eagles (25-10) were sent home.
Terrance Hill and Ty Proffitt each scored 10 points, but Demonte Harper, Morehead State’s second-leading scorer, finished 2 of 15 and had just 4 points.
West Regional San Diego St. 71, Temple 64 — Billy White had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Kawhi Leonard sealed the Aztecs’ exhausting double-overtime victory over the Owls with a steal and a dunk in a third-round thriller in Tucson.
White sank the go-ahead jumper and Leonard made two free throws as second-seeded San Diego State (34-2) finally put away pesky Temple (26-7).
Ramone Moore scored 17 for No. 7 seed Temple. San Diego State advanced to the regional semifinals in Anaheim, Calif., against Connecticut.
Leonard’s two free throws with 30.4 seconds to play put San Diego State ahead, 69-64, then he stole the ball from Khalif Wyatt in Temple’s backcourt, racing uncontested for the slam.