Kansas men’s basketball, which has won 17 consecutive games dating back to the 2021-22 NCAA title campaign, will play for another championship — at the Battle 4 Atlantis — on Friday.
Bobby Pettiford put in an improbable offensive rebound for a basket to beat the overtime buzzer as the Jayhawks (6-0) followed their first-round victory over North Carolina State with a 69-68 overtime win over Wisconsin on Thursday in the Imperial Ballroom of the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas.
Zach Clemence missed a three on KU’s final possession of OT with KU down one and four seconds to play. The ball missed but was tipped from Jalen Wilson to Pettiford, who banked in a short reverse layup for the improbable win.
Wilson scored 29 points and Kevin McCullar added 18 for KU. McCullar hit a three to force overtime with 12 seconds left in regulation.
The Jayhawks survived a game in which they led by as many as 15 points in the second half, only to see Wisconsin tie the score with around 8 minutes to play.
Gradey Dick hit three three-pointers for KU, which has reached the title game in its second appearance in the tourney. In 2013, KU lost in the semifinals of the event to Villanova.
Tyler Wahl scored 23 points for Wisconsin (4-1), which had defeated Dayton in the first round. Wisconsin won this tournament in 2014 and was runner-up in 2018.
KU has a 29-7 record in in-season tournaments with 10 tournament titles in the 20-year Bill Self era. KU won six straight in-season tournaments from 2014 to 2019.
Kansas, which opened the game 2-of-16 from the field, went on an 8-1 run to open a 20-12 lead at 7:37. In that run, McCullar had a dunk, Wilson made a three, McCullar added a three and Adams scored an inside bucket. It took McCullar a while to heat up, as he opened the game 0-for-5 shooting and 0-for-4 from three.
By halftime the Jayhawks had made just 12 of 32 shots (37.5%) but led 33-20.
In the half, Wilson scored 10 points with six rebounds, while Dick had nine points on 3-of-7 three-point shooting. McCullar hit 4 of 10 shots (1 of 5 threes) and had 10 points and four rebounds.
Wisconsin hit 8 of 26 shots the first half for 30.8%. The Badgers were 2-of-8 from three and KU was 6-of-17. Max Klesmit led the way with six points.
Dick hit a three with 8.9 seconds left in the first half. Wisconsin scored a bucket at the buzzer that was wiped off the scoreboard upon further review. Thus KU led by 13 points at the break.
KU led by 15 points, 41-26 with 15:41 left.
However, Wisconsin went on an 12-2 run to cut the gap to five points (43-38) with 11:52 to play. KU committed five turnovers in that run. The run continued to 22-7 and the game was tied on a three by Klesmit at 8:18.
Carter Gilmore hit a wide open layup at 6:48 and Wisconsin grabbed the 52-50 lead, which led to a Bill Self timeout.
KU rallied when down 52-50. The Jayhawks went on a 10-0 run to lead 60-52 at 3:38. Wilson and McCullar scored all the points during that stretch.
Wisconsin did not quit, rallying to grab a 61-60 lead on a bucket by Wahl at 0:49. Yes, KU squandered the eight point lead at the 3:38 mark. Wahl scored nine straight in the surge.
Down 63-60, KU tied the game on a three by McCullar. Clemence missed an open look from the corner but got the rebound and passed to McCullar, who stroked a three. Wisconsin failed to score on a last-second shot by Hepburn and the game went to OT.