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Adia Barnes finally gets her wish granted — Arizona will host a first and second round of the NCAA tournament.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats (20-7) will play No. 13 UNLV (26-6) at McKale Center on Saturday in a first-round game of the Greensboro (N.C.) Region.
No. 5 North Carolina (23-6) will play No. 12 Stephen F. Austin (20-4) in the other game.
We are HOSTING the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament‼️‼️ Let’s pack Mckale….. See everyone this weekend!!! ❤️💙Beardown! #sellout
— C8 (@cate_reese) March 14, 2022
The second round game between the winner of those games will be Monday.
Times for all the games are to be announced.
Arizona was in position to host the first and second round the last two seasons but COVID-19 wreaked havoc on those plans. The 2019-20 postseason was canceled and the tournament last year was exclusively at San Antonio with little to no fans.
The Wildcats finished second in the Pac-12 in attendance this season (behind Oregon), averaging 7,648 fans in 13 games at McKale Center. That’s a program record as well as the overall number of 99,424 tickets sold.
The Rebels, who won the Mountain West regular season and conference tournament championships, feature numerous local connections. They include:
— Former Sahuaro standout Alyssa Brown, the No. 2 scorer in Arizona girls basketball history, is a freshman forward with the Rebels. A Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year selection, Brown holds Sahuaro’s single-season scoring record at 932 points. Her 2,680 career points from 2017-21 is second in the state’s history behind 2,913 scored by Julie Brase at Catalina Foothills from 1994-98.
— Starting forward Khayla Rooks is the daughter of Arizona legend Sean Rooks.
— Jade Thomas, younger sister of Sam Thomas, is a sophomore at UNLV.
— UNLV coach Lindy La Rocque is the only female to play in Lute Olson’s Elite Basketball Camp at McKale Center during the summer when he coached the Wildcats. La Rocque’s father Al, a former longtime coach at Las Vegas Durango High School, played for Olson at Long Beach City College. Al La Rocque told the Las Vegas Sun in 2008 when he retired after more than 30 years of coaching, “I learned about basketball from Lute Olson.” La Rocque mentioned after UNLV beat Colorado State in the Mountain West tournament championship game last week that she took an inbound play out of Barnes’ playbook for an open 3-pointer that was made by one of the Rebels.
— UNLV Lady Rebels (@UNLVLadyRebels) March 14, 2022
— Freshman guard Alyssa Durazo-Frescas is the great grand daughter of Tucson historical figures Albert M. and Bertha “Bodie” Gallego. Albert Gallego has the skate park named after him at Santa Rita Park. Gallego, a native Tucsonan and graduate of Tucson High School, was president of The Santa Rita Neighborhood Association for several years and was involved in various city projects at the time of his death in 2008. He was a member of “Los Viejos Amigos,” a social club started in 1993. “Bodie” Gallego played semipro fastpitch softball in Tucson for the Flirts in the 1940s. Durazo-Frescas’s aunt Norma Gallego played for the Arizona softball program in 1975-76.
— Arizona Women’s Basketball (@ArizonaWBB) March 14, 2022
— Assistant coach Karlie Burris was a four-year starter at Salpointe who played for Pete Fajardo from 2001-05. She was part of the 2002-03 team that played in the Lancers’ first championship game. She went on to play for the University of Portland in the West Coast Conference and later served as an assistant coach at NAU, Cal State Fullerton and Utah State before she was hired by La Rocque this season.Burris began her coaching career working with former Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini when Bonvicini coached at Seattle University. Burris was a graduate assistant video coordinator with Seattle in 2011-12 — Bonvicini’s third year at the school.
— Director of basketball operations Amie Callaway visits Southern Arizona often with her dad Reggie residing in Marana. Reggie was an all-city running back at Cholla High School as a senior in the 1981 season who walked on at Arizona when Larry Smith coached the Wildcats.
— Long-time equipment manager Larry Chin, known for preparing Jerry Tarkanian’s towels, having them folded a certain way, told me he was raised in Tucson. He has worked nearly 40 years in the UNLV athletic department as a coordinator of athletic equipment.
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) March 14, 2022
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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.