Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats look to improve upon 9-0 record in first game after No. 1 ranking

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The Arizona Wildcats have been in this situation nine times before, playing their first game after earning a No. 1 ranking in a season. They won each time and the scores were mostly lopsided.

ASU managed to lose by only eight points (71-63) on Jan. 22, 2003, at McKale Center after the Wildcats landed at No. 1 for the second time in the 2002-03 season. Overall, the margin of victory for the Arizona Wildcats in their first game after achieving top-ranked status: An incredible 31.9 points.

That’s taking care of business. What bull’s eye on their back?

The victories included a 115-53 rout of Morgan State in the 1997-98 season opener after the Arizona Wildcats won the national title seven months previously. Another win was a 106-70 dismantling of UCLA at McKale Center on Feb. 13, 2003, following the Wildcats’ third time at No. 1 that season.

a-Lost at Oklahoma on Feb. 12, 1989. b-Lost to Purdue 72-69 in Indianapolis on Nov. 25, 2000.
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ArizonaLogo opp.NMSUlogo

Arizona (9-0, 0-0 Pac-12)
vs. New Mexico State (7-4, 0-0 WAC)

Tip: 7:06 p.m., Tucson time
Television: Pac-12 Networs (Ted Robinson/Matt Muehlebach)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 91; XM 91
Rankings: Arizona – No. 1 Associated Press/No. 1 USA Today Coaches Poll; New Mexico State – Not ranked in either.

A significant takeaway from Arizona’s nine separate times the Wildcats were ranked No. 1 for the first time in a season: They have only lost twice in that week, on the road, against tough competition. That must send chills up the spine of Arizona fans who know a game against Michigan, which played in the national title game last year, looms Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The losses were at Oklahoma, 82-80 on Feb. 12, 1989; and against Purdue, 72-69 on Nov. 25, 2000, in the Wooden Tradition at Indianapolis.

The loss to the Boilermakers was only three days after Arizona beat Illinois for the Maui Invitational title. The Wildcats kept the game close against Purdue despite a long trip to Indiana from Hawaii and a lack of practice time.

They also played without center Loren Woods, who was suspended for the first six games that season for receiving illegal benefits.

The Wildcats completed a season-opening four-game road trip that covered 9,100 miles from Tucson to Maui to Indianapolis.


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The loss to Oklahoma involved another logistical nightmare. In that week, the Wildcats played on the road against Washington on Feb. 5 and at Oregon four days later before traveling to Oklahoma and playing on Feb. 12.

Despite these difficult situations, Arizona lost by only a total of five points to Oklahoma and Purdue. That’s another indication that when Arizona became No. 1 under Lute Olson, the Wildcats became tougher.

If the Wildcats take care of New Mexico State tonight, they have only tomorrow in Tucson for preparation to uphold their No. 1 ranking before traveling to Michigan. They travel Friday and play the Wolverines Saturday at 10 a.m. Tucson time.

Who said being No. 1 is easy?

Miller is going to his Ohio roots, where he coached at Xavier, to lure Class of 2015 recruit Carlton Bragg, a 6’8″ forward from Cleveland. Reports today indicate that Miller and his staff have offered Bragg a scholarship. Bragg, a five-star recruit, also has offers from Louisville, UCLA, Kansas and Ohio State, among others.


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PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

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[/ezcol_1half_end] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and


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