ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- Kansas had a response this time after blowing another double-digit lead against Arizona.
Kirk Hinrich scored 28 points and made a key block down the stretch as the Jayhawks held on and advanced to the Final Four for the second straight year with a 78-75 victory over the top-seeded Wildcats in the West Region final.
Kansas (29-7) exacted revenge for a 91-74 home loss to Arizona on January 25 in which it squandered a 20-point lead. The Jayhawks let a 16-point lead slip away in this one before making enough big plays down the stretch to hold off the Wildcats.
Hinrich carried Kansas on the offensive end to make up for a sub-par effort from Nick Collison, who was plagued by foul trouble. But Hinrich, who bounced back from 1-of-9 shooting on Thursday, put his stamp on the night with a key defensive play.
"Against Duke, I wasn't the aggressor," Hinrich said. "If I was going to go down, I was going to go down fighting."
Arizona (28-4) forced a shot clock violation with seven seconds left, trailing, 78-75. After a timeout, Wildcats senior guard Jason Gardner took the inbounds and pulled up for a long jumper that Hinrich blocked with three seconds remaining.
The loose ball came to Luke Walton, who fired it back to Gardner for a 3-pointer at the buzzer that clanged off the rim as the Jayhawks celebrated.
"Hinrich blocked the shot," Gardner said. "(It) fell into Luke's hands. I thought I had a good look. It went off the back of the rim."
"I knew they needed a three," Hinrich said. "I figured he would get a ball screen. And when it didn't come and when he got in his range, I knew he would shoot it. My height helped me, helped me get a piece of it."
With Collison limited to eight points, Jeff Graves picked up the slack for Kansas. Graves collected 13 points and 12 rebounds and helped get Arizona center Channing Frye in foul trouble.
Graves was forced to lose 40 pounds before the season to get down to his current 275 pounds. He replaced Wayne Simien in the starting lineup when Simien went down with a dislocated shoulder in late December.
"I've been on Jeff Graves' tail all year long, every single day," Kansas coach Williams said. "For him to get 15 points and 13 rebounds, it makes me feel very, very good for him."
The Jayhawks, who lost to Maryland in the Final Four last season, will meet Marquette on April 5 in New Orleans. Williams, who never has won a national title, will lead his fourth team into the Final Four.
"I don't think he's been given the credit that he deserves," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "It's probably his team feeling the pressure and wanting to get the so-called monkey off his back. No one in this country has done a better job."
"Coach has obviously taken a lot of criticism for not winning one," Collison said. "It's hard to do. We've got two games left."
Keith Langford's free throw gave Kansas the lead for good at 70-69 with 4:31 remaining. Hinrich misfired on a 3-pointer, but Graves was there to tip it in for a three-point edge.
A 3-pointer by Walton with two minutes left cut Arizona's deficit to 74-73. Graves had a nifty feed to Collison for a layup and another three-point edge with 1:27 remaining.
Gardner made two foul shots 11 seconds later and the Wildcats set up their defense in an attempt to come up with a big stop. But Langford sliced through and scored on a runner for a 78-75 lead with 50 seconds to go.
"I wasn't planning on it," Langford said. "They were trying to block my shot. I was just trying to extend as far as I could to get away from them."
Walton passed up a 3-pointer and drove to the basket but was whistled for an offensive foul for crashing into Langford.
"I probably shouldn't have taken it in there," Walton said. "I thought I had an open lane to the hole and went in."
The teams battled to a 37-37 draw on the glass after Arizona held a 38-28 advantage in the first meeting.
"That was part of the theme coming into the game," Graves said. "We knew the last time that they were taking advantage of rebounding and we weren't boxing out."
Kansas took an early 15-7 lead as Hinrich drained a pair of 3-pointers. His layup provided the Jayhawks' biggest lead at 31-15 with 9:32 left before halftime.
The lead was still 38-22 after a layup by Hinrich with 4:27 to go. But the Wildcats closed the half with 13 straight points and an up-and-down call on Hinrich drew the wrath of Williams, who took off his coat and screamed at the officials.
Kansas embarked on a 13-2 spurt and opened a 53-40 advantage with 15:13 remaining. Bryant Nash dunked on a fast break for a 56-42 lead with 14:10 to play before Arizona made another big push.
"I told them that that team was good enough and they weren't just going to roll over and play dead," Williams said. "They were going to keep coming back and we were going to have to be tough enough to make sure we did what we needed to do."
Arizona ran off 18 straight points and took a 58-56 lead on two free throws by Gardner with 10:32 remaining. There were five more lead changes in the final nine minutes.
The Wildcats were hurt by 19 turnovers, which led to 29 points for the Jayhawks. Kansas held a 22-2 edge in fast-break scoring.
"The fast-break opportunities were a result of the mistakes," Olson said. "The first half, I think they had 20 points off turnovers. Most of those came in the first 10 or 12 minutes."
Gardner scored 23 points and Walton added 18 and 10 rebounds in their final games for Arizona. Freshman Hassan Adams provided a spark with 11 points off the bench.
Salim Stoudamire, who scored a career-high 32 points in the first meeting with Kansas, manage just four on 1-of-4 shooting. He played just eight minutes in the second half and failed to take a shot as Olson chose to go with Adams and freshman Andre Iguodala. The game was delayed five minutes by a malfunctioning scoreboard.