PHILADELPHIA - Hassan Adams’ leadership was even more important to Arizona than his solid shooting.
Back from a two-game suspension, Adams scored 21 points and Ivan Radenovic added 18, leading the eighth-seeded Wildcats to a 94-75 victory over No. 9 seed Wisconsin in the Minneapolis Regional on Friday.
Playing in his hometown, Mustafa Shakur had 17 points and nine assists, and Arizona advanced behind tough defense and outstanding shooting.
“It was tough last week without Hassan,” Wildcats coach Lute Olson said. “He’s a great competitor. The more there is on the line, the better he plays. He’s a winner. We need his leadership. It was great to have him back.”
Adams missed two games in the Pac-10 tournament because the senior was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. He shot 10-for-14 while playing only 23 minutes.
“We were well-prepared,” Adams said. “It took us a week to get ready.”
The Wildcats shot 59 percent (35-for-59) and will play Sunday against top-seeded Villanova.
Alando Tucker scored 19 and Kammron Taylor had 12 for Wisconsin (19-12). The Badgers finished their season with four consecutive losses.
A tight game was expected in a matchup featuring two teams that reached the quarterfinals last season. But Arizona dominated from the opening tip and hardly let up.
“You can’t play from behind. It’s very difficult,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “We talked about playing possession-for-possession. We are not athletic enough or quick enough to play from behind. That was our worst nightmare.”
The Wildcats’ man-to-man defense smothered Wisconsin early, holding the Badgers to just 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting through the first 11-plus minutes. Meanwhile, Arizona made 14 of its first 20 shots and led 35-11.
A 15-2 run allowed Wisconsin to close to 37-26 and the score was 46-34 at halftime. But Arizona scored the first seven points in the second half and went ahead 53-34 after Adams hit a long jumper following his driving layup.
The Badgers never got within single digits and Adams put it out of reach with another long jumper that made it 80-63 with 5:55 left.
“It was a matter of sticking to our game plan,” Shakur said. “The coaches kept saying, ’No let-ups.”’
Arizona has reached the NCAA tournament 22 straight years, the second-longest streak in history behind North Carolina’s 27 from 1975-01. The Wildcats lost to Illinois 90-89 in overtime in the final of the Chicago Regional last year.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Arizona began the season ranked No. 10 in The Associated Press’ preseason poll, but wasn’t among the Top 25 over the final eight weeks. Arizona’s streak of 312 consecutive regular-season appearances in the AP poll ended in December.
“We played offensively as well as we played all year,” Olson said. “We let the game come to us. We worked to get the open shot and, when we got it, we knocked it down.”
While it was a happy return to Philadelphia for Shakur, it was a tough homecoming for Ryan, who grew up just outside the city in Chester.
The Badgers won their first three tournament games last year before losing to eventual national champion North Carolina. Making its eighth straight trip to the tournament, Wisconsin lost in the first round for the first time since 2001.
“What got them going was the easy baskets and from there, they’re confidence skyrocketed,” Tucker said. “Those are things that can’t happen.”
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