ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- A pair of Indiana high school point guards square off on Thursday when Jason Gardner and top-seeded Arizona face Chris Thomas and No. 5 Notre Dame in the semifinals of the West Region.
Gardner and Thomas, a pair of Indianapolis natives, were each named Mr. Basketball in the state after their senior seasons.
Arizona (27-3) advanced with a thrilling 96-95 victory in two overtimes over Gonzaga in the second round. Salim Stoudamire scored five of his 15 points in the second extra session and the Wildcats survived a pair of missed shots in the final seconds.
Gardner scored 22 points and Channing Frye collected 22 points and 12 rebounds as all five starters scored in double figures. Luke Walton added 16 points and nine assists and Rick Anderson finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Stoudamire had a rough shooting night, making just 5-of-15 shots. Gardner was impressive in 47 minutes as the Wildcats had just nine turnovers.
Notre Dame (24-9) lost four out of five to enter the NCAA Tournament, but eked out a win against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the first round and used some impressive perimeter shooting in a 68-60 victory over Illinois in the second round. Dan Miller, a Maryland transfer, made his first five 3-point attempts and finished with 23 points.
Arizona coach Lute Olson is aware that his team must control Notre Dame's perimeter attack.
"Probably a little bit like California in terms of having really good perimeter players, great shooters," Olson said. "Their game is a push-it-up-the-court, the first look you get at a shot, you're going to take. They're a little different from Cal in that their point guard is one of their primary scorers, maybe a bit like Oregon. They look for the three. That's a big part of what they do."
A key to Notre Dame's improved play has been better defense. The Irish had allowed 87 points per game in their five games prior to the tournament, but have now held back-to-back opponents under 70 points for the first time since January 12-14.
Besides Thomas and Miller, All-Big East first team selection Matt Carroll is one of Notre Dame's major scoring threats. Carroll, a senior shooting guard, averages 19.8 points per game to lead the Irish.
The Fighting Irish have not advanced to a regional final since 1987.
Arizona has won three of four meetings with Notre Dame, including a 76-60 victory in the last meeting on November 24, 1999 in the Preseason NIT.
The winner will face Kansas or Duke in Saturday's West Region final.