Arizona Basketball

Ranking Arizona Wildcats’ Top 5 Sweet 16 victories

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No. 5: Arizona defeats Iowa 99-79 in 1988. Lute Olson beats his former school behind a memorable performance by frontcourt players Sean Elliott, Anthony Cook and Tom Tolbert. The trio combined for 61 points on 26-of-43 shooting from the field. After struggling to a 38-34 halftime lead following an 11-2 Iowa run, Arizona quickly built a 62-43 lead with 13:24 remaining thanks to a 9-0 run. Elliott’s slam-dunk on a pass from Steve Kerr capped a 6-0 burst that made it 68-46 with 11:54 to play. The Wildcats’ biggest lead was 74-48 on Kerr’s 3-pointer with 9:47 to go. “We came out a little tight,” Elliott told the New York Times. “But after we settled down and got into the rhythm of the game, we started playing the way we can play.”

Salim Stoudamire  made one of the biggest shots in Arizona's NCAA tournament history in the Sweet 16 win over Oklahoma State in 2005

Salim Stoudamire made one of the biggest shots in Arizona’s NCAA tournament history in the Sweet 16 win over Oklahoma State in 2005

No. 4: Arizona defeats Oklahoma State 79-78 in 2005. Salim Stoudamire hit an off-balance jumper from the left side with 2.8 seconds left giving Arizona the thrilling victory. Arizona shot 65.9 percent from the field. Channing Frye (15 points and 10 rebounds) and Hassan Adams (19 points and 10 rebounds) had double-doubles. “I thrive on those situations,” Stoudamire told USA Today. “That’s what I live for. That’s why I play basketball. Bigtime players step up in bigtime situations, and I see myself as one of those players.”

No. 3: Arizona defeats Duke 93-77 in 2011. Derrick Williams has one of the best individual performances in Arizona history with a career-high 32 points and 13 rebounds. He made 11 of 17 shots from the field, including 5 of 6 from three-point range. Lamont Jones added 16 points and six assists. The Wildcats dominated Duke and coach Mike Krzyzewski 55-33 in the second half. “The second half was just complete nastiness, as coach would say,” Kevin Parrom was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “We came out swinging. We didn’t let up. We knew they were just going to focus on Derrick and that’s when other guys came in and stepped up. It shows that it’s not just Derrick Williams who is on this team.”

No. 2: Arizona defeats UNLV 114-109 in overtime in 1976. As good as Williams was against Duke, Herman Harris was better against UNLV and Jerry Tarkanian in this high-scoring classic before the shot clock and three-point line were instituted. Harris came an assist and rebound away from a triple-double. He tallied 31 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Arizona had three players with at least 10 rebounds — Phil Taylor (15), Bob Elliott (12) and Al Fleming (11). “It was a conscious effort to go to Herm because I felt he could win it for us,” Arizona coach Fred Snowden told the Tucson Citizen. “Under pressure, this was probably his best game for us.”

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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:
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No. 1: Arizona defeats Kansas 85-82 in 1997. This was not only the best Sweet 16 win it was the best win in the program’s history. The Wildcats went on to win the title over Kentucky, but what made this game more significant is the unlikelihood of the outcome. Kansas was No. 1 with a 34-1 record and Arizona, which had nine losses, finished fifth in the Pac-10. Kansas — a 10 1/2-point favorite — also featured future NBA players Jacque Vaughn, Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz and Scot Pollard. “This was all about believing in ourselves because nobody else did,” Michael Dickerson told me (as a reporter for The Arizona Daily Star) after that game (I was the beat reporter for the Arizona Daily Star). “Nobody gave us a chance, even people in our own state. But I think that made us that much stronger. We shouldn’t be looking for respect. We should have that already.”

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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