ANAHEIM, Calif. — Kirk Hinrich went from his worst day to his best, taking Kansas back to the Final Four.
Hinrich scored 28 points and blocked a 3-point attempt by Jason Gardner in the final seconds Saturday as the second-seeded Jayhawks beat top-seeded Arizona 78-75 to win the West Regional.
So much for that anticipated Arizona-Kentucky matchup in the national semifinals next Saturday at the Superdome.
Instead, the Jayhawks (29-7) will face Marquette in New Orleans. The third-seeded Golden Eagles (27-5) stunned No. 1 Kentucky 83-69 earlier Saturday to win the Midwest Regional.
The victory was the 1,800th for Kansas — third-most in NCAA history. The Jayhawks will play in their 12th Final Four, the fourth in Roy Williams' 15 years as coach.
Williams has a 417-100 career record and his .807 winning percentage is the best among active coaches, but he's never won a national championship. This team appears poised and ready.
Hinrich, a miserable 1-of-9 for two points in Kansas' 69-65 victory over Duke in the regional semifinals, came out sharp in this game and wound up one point shy of his career high.
He shot 10-of-23, including 6-of-17 from 3-point range, and added five rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.
The second block won't soon be forgotten in Kansas.
After the Jayhawks committed a shot clock violation, the Wildcats took possession with 7.1 seconds remaining. Gardner let fly from about 25 feet away, but Hinrich slapped the ball away.
Arizona's Luke Walton grabbed it and fed the ball back to Gardner in the left corner, but his second attempt to tie the game missed as time expired, setting off a wild Kansas celebration.
The loss was a tough one for Arizona and 68-year-old Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson, who remained stuck at 499 wins in his 20 seasons as leader of the Wildcats.
Jeff Graves had 13 points and 15 rebounds, and Keith Langford also scored 13 points for Kansas.
Nick Collison, brilliant in the victory over Duke with a career-high 33 points and 19 rebounds, sat out key minutes down the stretch with four fouls. But he made his second basket of the game with 1:27 left to give Kansas a 76-73 lead.
Langford made a free throw with 4:31 remaining to snap a 69-all tie and put the Jayhawks ahead for good, and his runner with 50.6 seconds to go completed the scoring.
The sophomore guard then drew a charging foul on Walton with 43.4 seconds left, setting up the final sequence.
Gardner led the Wildcats (28-4) with 23 points. Walton had 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and Rick Anderson and Hassan Adams added 11 points each.
It was the last game for seniors Gardner, Walton and Anderson. But Hinrich and Collison — key seniors on the other side — get to play on.
Arizona outscored Kansas 18-4 to finish the first half and start the second, erasing all but two points of a 16-point deficit.
It was reminiscent of a game between the teams Jan. 25, when the Wildcats trailed by 20 before outscoring Kansas 67-30 to finish the game for a 91-74 victory that snapped the Jayhawks' 23-game home winning streak.
Just when it appeared the Wildcats were in control, Kansas went on a 14-2 run capped by Bryant Nash's breakaway dunk to go ahead 56-42.
That only seemed to stir up the Wildcats, who scored the game's next 16 points — eight by Gardner — in just over three minutes for a two-point lead with 10:32 remaining.
Neither team led by more than four after that.
Channing Frye and Anderson each picked up two fouls in the opening four minutes, causing Olson to have to go to his bench early and employ a zone defense.
The strategy made life difficult for Collison, but was otherwise ineffective — at least for a while.
Hinrich had three 3-pointers and 13 points in the opening 10 1/2 minutes as the Jayhawks took a 31-15 lead.
At that stage, the seasoned Wildcats had committed 10 turnovers and were getting beaten on the backboards.
But after a basket by Hinrich with 4:28 left before halftime made it 38-22, the game suddenly turned.
With the red-clad Arizona fans on their feet screaming, the Wildcats' zone tightened, the offense came together and the result was a 13-0 run to finish the half, cutting Kansas' lead to a mere three points.
Hinrich was called for traveling in the final minute of the half, prompting an angry display from the normally mild-mannered Williams.
First, he tore off his jacket and threw it on a chair behind the Kansas bench. Then, he stomped toward the official who called the violation, voicing his disapproval, but it was to no avail.