EDITOR NOTE: AllSportsTucson.com is running a feature this basketball season highlighting what happened 25 years ago on that particular day commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Arizona Wildcats’ national championship. The next in the series is what occurred and what was written concerning the developments of Jan. 23, 1997, when Arizona beat Oregon State 99-48 at McKale Center. The information gathered is through articles written by beat reporters Steve Rivera (Tucson Citizen) and Javier Morales (Arizona Daily Star), who now are writing for AllSportsTucson.com
You can access previous stories in this series by clicking on this link.
DATELINE: Jan. 23, 1997, McKale Center
Arizona’s convincing 99-48 victory over Oregon State today was not the most astounding aspect of the day.
A bigger wonder is how the Beavers defeated then-No. 15 Stanford last week in Covallis, Ore. And even more of an amazement was the fact Miles Simon, bedridden in a hospital for parts of three days this week with pneumonia, played 16 minutes and scored 11 points.
“I couldn’t wait to get out of (the hospital) and start feeling better, so I could play,” said Simon, who checked into the University Medical Center at 3 a.m. four days ago. “They wanted to keep me in there until my fever went down (from 103 degrees).
“I feel all right now, but I’m still a little tired. This is only the second day (he practiced briefly yesterday) I touchded the ball. I’m coming around.”
Simon looked noticeably thinner, but he said he lost four or five pounds to drop to 190.
UA coach Lute Olson said, “I didn’t think going into (yesterday) that he would play at all.”
“But he came to practice and I had told our trainer maybe do some shooting and a little bit of running, but the doctor who treated him said there was no problem,” Olson added. “They got his liquid back up through IV’s, and that kind of thing, and said there was no reason why he couldn’t play as long as he indicated when he needed a breather.”
Olson, who is battling a weeklong case of the flu, went on to say, “This stuff is wicked.”
Oregon State knows the feeling.
The Beavers, who shot 32.2 percent from the field and committed a season-high 27 turnovers, looked like they were suffering from an illness.
It was their worst loss in school history, surpassing the 44-point blowout Arizona administered to them in 1994. They have lost 14 straight at McKale Center, and 14 in a row overall to the Wildcats. The UA is 25-1 agsainst the Beavers since 1985.
“This is the worst basketball experience I’ve had,” said Oregon State coach Eddie Payne, who kept his players off limits for interviews after the game. “To be honest, I have never experienced anything like this, and to be honest, I hope I never do again.”
Perhaps with a young team, featuring three freshman starters, this won’t happen again because of the maturation process.
But it will be hard to erase the memory of being the first Pac-10 team to lose by 51 points to Arizona since Oregon lost 104-53 in 1992, and being the first to score only 48 points against the Wildcats since Washington State in 1989.
“At times, they played pretty good,” said Jason Terry, perhaps trying to avoid bulletin board material when UA travels to Corvallis Feb. 22. “You have to give credit to their coach for having them prepared.”
Huh? Payne admitted that Oregon State was not ready mentally after stunning the Cardinal last week.
“One practice we had this week, we ran sprints because we weren’t focused,” he said.
Even if it was against the Beavers, 5-10 overall and 1-5 in the Pac-10, the 11th-ranked Wildcats (11-4, 4-2) were more active to the ball defensively than last week at USC and UCLA. Of course, cold shooting by the Beavers, who had a few open looks, helped.
When Arizona outscored the Beavers 26-5 to take a 33-13 lead with 4:19 remaining in the first half, Oregon State put a shot in the basket only once in a 14-minute period. The Beavers were 2 for 21 in that span, but one of the field goals came on a goaltending call by Donnell Harris on a Sonny Benjamin attempt.
It got so ridiculous, one of the soft drink vendors courtside heard yelling, “Ice cold lemonade! Almost as cold as Oregon State!”
Mike Bibby and Terry each made 7 of 11 shots from the field with Bibby finishing with a team-high 20 points while Terry had 16 points and seven assists.
A.J. Bramlett had a near double-double with 11 rebounds and nine points.
Arizona outrebounded Oregon State 52-40 and the Wildcats recorded 20 assists on their 33 made field goals.
— Javier Morales
Arizona Wildcats 1996-97 Men's Basketball Schedule
|11/22/96||19||7 North Carolina|
Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic
|W 83–72||Springfield (MA)|
|11/26/96||11||Northern Arizona||W 88–70||McKale Center|
|11/30/96||11||19 New Mexico||L 84-77||Albuquerque (NM)|
John Wooden Classic
|W 69–61||Anaheim (CA)|
|12/9/96||15||13 Texas||W 83–78||McKale Center|
|12/14/96||8||Jackson State||W 111–83||McKale Center|
|12/21/96||6||4 Michigan||L 73-71 OT||Auburn Hills (MI)|
Fiesta Bowl Classic
|W 118–54||McKale Center|
Fiesta Bowl Classic
|W 93–51||McKale Center|
|1/2/97||9||California||W 81-80||McKale Center|
|1/4/97||9||21 Stanford||W 76-75||McKale Center|
|1/11/97||7||Arizona State||W 92-84||Tempe|
|1/16/97||6||USC||L 75-62||Los Angeles|
|1/18/97||6||UCLA||L 84-78 OT||Los Angeles|
|1/23/97||11||Oregon State||W 99-48||McKale Center|
|1/25/97||11||Oregon||W 88-66||McKale Center|
|1/30/97||10||Washington State||W 87-78||Pullman (WA)|
|2/5/97||14||Arizona State||W 87-71||McKale Center|
|2/13/97||11||24 UCLA||L 66-64||McKale Center|
|2/15/97||11||USC||W 101-77||McKale Center|
|2/20/97||13||Oregon||L 78-72||Eugene (OR)|
|2/22/97||13||Oregon State||W 74-64||Corvallis (OR)|
|2/27/97||15||Washington State||W 100-86||McKale Center|
|3/2/97||15||Washington||W 103-82||McKale Center|
|3/6/97||12||23 Stanford||L 81-80||Palo Alto (CA)|
|3/8/97||12||California||L 79-77||San Francisco|
|3/13/97||4||13 South Alabama|
NCAAT 1st Round
|3/15/97||4||12 College of Charleston|
NCAAT 2nd Round
|W 85-82||Birmingham (AL)|
|W 96-92 OT||Birmingham (AL)|
|3/29/97||4||1 North Carolina|
|W 84-79 OT||Indianapolis|
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.