Taylor and Jared Berggren led Wisconsin with 17 points each.
There was far less drama in the second semifinal, which Ohio State (30-7) led 37-25 at halftime.
“Our intensity level wasn’t where it needs to be for us to have success.” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “We were too conservative defensively.”
But the Bearcats (26-11) outscored their in-state rivals 27-11 in the first 8 1/2 minutes of the second half and led 52-48. Then they fell apart, committing seven turnovers the rest of the way.
The Buckeyes went on a 17-1 run to take a 65-53 lead with just under six minutes remaining and never were threatened again.
“The game plan was never to let them get some consecutive scores,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “When we did that, they had the momentum going on their side, and we weren’t able to control it. It affected us a little bit offensively, as well. We had some costly turnovers there.”
Not as costly as Cincinnati’s.
The Bearcats began the night averaging 10.7 turnovers per game, 15th fewest in the nation, but committed 18 against Ohio State.
“We got down early, made a tremendous comeback,” Cronin said. “At the end of the day, we didn’t take care of the basketball. … With 18 turnovers, we really just gave ourselves no chance.”
Cincinnati was led by Cashmere Wright with 18 points and Sean Kilpatrick with 15.
The Buckeyes led by five when Thomas hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Ohio State scored 10 of the last 13 points in the half to open a 37-25 lead. But Cincinnati opened the second half with a run of its own, tying it 41-all on JaQuon Parker’s baby hook in the lane.
The Bearcats led 52-48 on Gates’ three-point play with 11:34 left, but Ohio State responded by scoring 17 of the next 18 points to put it away.
Now the Buckeyes face a tougher Big East opponent.
“We stay right there level-headed. We believe in each other,” Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine said. “When you’ve got a team like that, no matter what, we’re capable of winning games no matter who we’re playing against or what the circumstances are in every game.”