EDITOR NOTE: AllSportsTucson.com will run 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 Dec. 14, 1996, when Arizona hosted Jackson State. The information gathered is through articles written by beat reporters Steve Rivera (Tucson Citizen) and Javier Morales (Arizona Daily Star), who now are with AllSportsTucson.com:
You can access previous stories in this series by clicking on this link.
DATELINE: Dec. 14, 1996, McKale Center
Questions continue to be answered by Arizona.
With almost more players on the bench than those active, the Wildcats utilized a six-man rotation to perfection in their 111-83 victory over Jackson State in front of 14,303 at McKale Center today.
Arizona has overcome its youth, beating ranked opponents North Carolina, Utah and Texas. The eighth-ranked Wildcats (5-1) have responded to the absence of Miles Simon with Michael Dickerson performing like an All-American with 25.8 points a game.
UA coach Lute Olson had an additional concern today with A.J. Bramlett sitting in street clothes with a strained right foot, suffered in Friday’s practice. That left only six players in the UA’s regular rotation.
“Playing with six guys was a major concern,” Olson said. “It has gotten to the point where we have talked to (freshman forward) Justin Wessel about having him come out of his redshirt year at any time.
“Eugene (Edgerson) is still hobbling, and there’s always a possibility he can tweak it again. It’s not a sure-fire thing can be ready against Michigan (in a week). Justin is ready and willing to step in if needed.”
Wessel, who can play either power forward or on the wing, has gained 18 pounds since the start of the season, and he has steadily improved in practice. Olson said there is a possibility he would come out of the redshirt year, be eligible to play with the UA in Australia and redshirt next year.
With the lack of numbers, staying out of foul trouble was a must and the UA played accordingly with only 11 fouls the entire game against Jackson State.
The Wildcats’ first foul was not until 3:25 remained in the first half.
Donnell Harris more than made up for Bramlett’s absence, recording a career-high 21 points and 16 rebounds. Dickerson had 24 points and Bennett Davison 22. Jason Terry added 19 points, breaking out of a shooting slump with three 3-pointers in the second half.
Edgerson, overcoming a sore ankle, did not score prolifically, but he ignited the crowd with a rousing dunk that put Arizona ahead 99-65, and then he made a couple of free throws with 3:10 remaining to put the Wildcats over the century mark for the first time this season.
Earlier in the second half, he finally ended his 0-for-10 stretch at the foul line to start the season.
“We were scrappy out there, hustling for all the loose balls and making things happen,” said Edgerson, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. “We talked before the game that we couldn’t have another game like we had against a team like NAU (the Wildcats trailed in the second half in that game before winning 88-70).”
— Javier Morales