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 Feb. 9, 1997, when Arizona defeated Tulsa 81-62 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. 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: Feb. 9, 1997, Phoenix
First, let’s quash the rumors. No, 7UP Shootout officials aren’t considering the name of their game to the Miles Simon Shootout.
But after two years, it appears Simon owns the made-for-television event. He hit a 65-foot game-winner at the buzzer last year against Cincinnati and scored a career-high 30 points today in No. 14 Arizona’s 81-62 victory over No. 21 Tulane in the 7UP Shootout here at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
“I had a couple of good games here, and it’s been real good games here, and it’s been real good for me here, especially because it was on national TV and everything,” Simon said of today’s performance.
Good may be an understatement.
If last year he was dubbed “Miracle Miles” for his game-winner, which put him in the national spotlight with a possible ESPN ESPY Award, today he was remained “Marvelous Miles” or “Sensational Simon.”
As Tulane’s Perry Clark, whose team looked outclassed and overmatched against Arizona’s smaller players, put it: It was Simon’s back-to-back 3-pointers with seven minutes left in the game that were the “daggers” for the Green Wave.
Simon stretched UA’s lead to 21 points, 68-47. Simon had 19 second-half points, including three treys.
”We knew he was a good shooter and we tried not to give him a number of free looks,” Clark said. “They then do a good job of giving him free looks, and he knocked them down. But everybody in the Pac-10 and the nation knows he’s capable of that.”
And so, for the second straight contest, Simon took control of Arizona’s game.
“I think he enjoys playing up there,” said UA assistant Jessie Evans, who added with a laugh, “Obviously he likes that arena.
“What he’s doing is taking on the role (as leader) very well. He’s taking it to the next level. He’s getting everybody pumped in the locker room and talking to them, and he’s doing it before we do. With him, he takes it seriously. Then he goes out and does this. He gives that extra little. Everyone sees that and they feed off of it.”
Simon senses it. On the court, he sees the team is more relaxed, perhaps because with each game he brings maturity and/or because he has some sort of effect on the players.”
Simon said, “I’m trying to be vocal, and our guys are looking at me, trying to keep things under control. Mike Bibby is calm, so is JT (Jason Terry) and Michael Dickerson. There’s a feeling out there things are all right. You can see we are settling down. I like that.”
He also liked that along with his 30 points came 10 assists, making it his first double-double of his career, while playing a season-high 36 minutes.
“I just think it was time to step up my game,” said Simon, who missed the first semester for academic reasons.
— Steve Rivera
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|
FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!
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.