When top-ranked Arizona tips off against No. 3 Purdue on Saturday at Indianapolis, Ind., it will call to mind a historic game played between the Wildcats and Boilermakers 46 years ago.
Future NBA No. 1 draft pick Joe Barry Carroll, a 7-foot-1 center, was a sophomore at Purdue when the Boilermakers traveled to Tucson on Dec. 10, 1977.
Arizona won 38 consecutive games at McKale Center at that point and sixth-year coach Fred Snowden had never lost a non-conference game at home.
Carroll changed all that.
In one of the great individual games ever against the Wildcats, he posted a triple-double — 16 points, 16 rebounds and 11 blocked shots — as Purdue won 80-78 in front of 13,100 at McKale.
Arizona’s Robbie Dosty could have forced the game into overtime with two free throws with 2 seconds left, but he missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity.
Carroll’s 11 blocked shots were a McKale Center record until Arizona’s Loren Woods swatted 14 against Oregon on Feb. 3, 2000.
Arizona shot well from the field (42.5 percent compared to Purdue’s 36.4) and the Wildcats outrebounded Purdue 44-38 but they struggled to convert in key situations because of Carroll’s blocked shots.
“I thought we got the shots we wanted but they wouldn’t fall,” Snowden is quoted as saying by the Arizona Daily Star. “We got the ball in deep four times and Carroll blocked three of them.”
Unreal: All 10 starters in the game scored in double figures.
Purdue guard Jerry Sichting, who went on to play in the NBA, and Arizona center Phil Taylor each led their teams with 19 points.
Arizona point guard Russell Brown, a freshman who would go on to set Arizona assists records in his career, had 15 points and 10 assists in the game.
“The guy that really hurt us was Brown,” Purdue coach Fred Schaus said to reporters after the game. “We finally decided to get to the defensive boards and Joe Barry Carroll ignited it all with several blocks. It took away Arizona’s inside game.”