PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Bobby Pettiford Jr. made a twisting reverse layup off a loose rebound with 0.2 seconds left in overtime to give No. 3 Kansas a 69-68 win over Wisconsin in a Battle 4 Atlantis semifinal on Thursday.
Pettiford’s layup marked his only points of the game, capping a thriller that saw Wisconsin rally from 15 down early in the second half.
Pettiford landed on the floor after the basket as he watched the ball go through the net, then extended his fists in front of him and yelled as he started to sit up. By the time he had gotten on his feet, he had a big smile while his teammates began to hug and gather with him near the baseline corner to celebrate.
The team left the court to chants of “Bobby! Bobby!” as they headed to Friday’s championship game.
Jalen Wilson scored 29 points and had 14 rebounds for the reigning national champion Jayhawks (6-0), and Kevin McCullar Jr. had 18 points and nine rebounds — and a 3 to force overtime.
Tyler Wahl led the Badgers (4-1) with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Most of his points came after half in what was at times a one-man comeback, including a spinning drive against a falling Wilson for a layup and a 68-67 lead with 21 seconds left.
Wisconsin shot 48% in the second half behind Wahl, who had 14 points and got to the foul line seven times. That included a run of nine straight points with his team down by eight, ending with his banked-in runner against Kansas’ Gradey Dick for a 61-60 lead with 49.4 seconds left in regulation.
Wisconsin appeared on the verge of pulling off a stunner after a pair of free throws by Connor Essegian made it 63-60, but McCullar buried a clutch 3 from the left wing with 11.8 seconds left to tie it and force OT.
Wisconsin: The same team that struggled to crack 40 points — or make a shot, frankly — in the first round of the tournament looked to be on its way to another bad offensive showing. Instead, Wahl and the Badgers showed resilience and climbed back in it, they stayed shot for shot with Kansas down the stretch.
Kansas: The Jayhawks didn’t have an easy time of their Atlantis debut on Thursday, needing to battle to the final minutes against N.C. State. This time, Pettiford was in the right place at the right time after Wilson tipped the ball from Wahl’s reach for a rebound off Zach Clemence’s missed 3-pointer. Just like that, Kansas was still unbeaten.
Wisconsin: The Badgers will face the Southern California-Tennessee loser in Friday’s third-place game.
Kansas: The Jayhawks advanced to Friday’s championship game to face the Southern California-Tennessee winner.