Arizona Basketball

Arizona off to second-best start in program’s history





ARIZONA’S BEST STARTS
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Sean Miller's team trails only the 1987-88 team with the best start in Arizona history

Sean Miller’s team trails only the 1987-88 team with the best start in Arizona history (YouTube)

Arizona’s 9-0 start is only topped by the 12-0 start by the program’s first Final Four team in 1987-88, which included Sean Elliott and Steve Kerr and finished 35-3.

“We worked very hard to be 9-0,” Arizona coach Sean Miller told the media after the Wildcats dispatched Oral Roberts 89-64 on Tuesday night at McKale Center.

“We did some really good things, but the things we didn’t do so well at we will learn from.”

The Wildcats’ start this season, which has merited a No. 4 ranking in the Associated Press poll, ties the 1914-15 and 1921-22 teams for the second-best start.

The 1914-15 team, coached by J.F. “Pop” McKale, played only those nine games. McKale’s bunch topped Tucson High School twice and YMCA teams from Tucson (twice), Bisbee (twice), Douglas and Phoenix before beating the Fifth Infantry on Jan. 30, 1915.

The 1921-22 team, coached by James H. Pierce, started 9-0 before losing to USC. The Wildcats played their last four games against the Trojans in Tucson and Los Angeles, splitting the four games.

Three other teams started 8-0 before losing: The 1993-94 Final Four team that finished 29-6, the 1995-96 team that was 27-6 and the 1998-99 team that ended 22-6.

That means this year’s team joins two of Arizona’s Final Four teams that started at least 8-0. That number is not the standard for all the Final Four teams, however. The 1996-97 team that won the national championship started 6-2 (improving to 10-2) before finishing 25-9. The 2000-01 team started 5-3 before it ended the season 28-8.

If the Wildcats win all three games in the Diamond Head Classic at Hawaii Saturday, Sunday and Monday, they would return home tied with the 1987-88 team with the best start in the program’s history.

That would mean they can make history in the Pac-12 opener against Colorado at McKale Center on Jan. 3.

Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner

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