Arizona has clinched the Pac-12 basketball championship in every conceivable scenario: as early as Valentine’s Day (1988) and as late as March 12 (1994).
It clinched the league title while losing (1991) at Oregon, and it clinched the championship in a head-to-head showdown at Stanford (2003).
But nothing beats winning the title outright and cutting down the nets at home on Senior Day, as is today’s possible scenario against Stanford.
Arizona has clinched the Pac-12 basketball championship at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, Wazzu’s Friel Court; Oregon’s old Mac Court; Stanford’s Maples Pavilion; and twice at ASU’s Wells Fargo Arena.
Six of the 12 titles were made official at McKale Center: 1988, 1990, 1993, 1998, 2000 and 2011.
Arizona twice tied for the championship (1990 and 2000), although it owned the 2000 tiebreaker by sweeping Stanford. In the 1990 regular-season finale, Oregon State arrived at McKale Center 15-2 against Arizona’s 14-3.
Gary Payton mailed it in that day, claiming the Beavers had “taken care of business’’ by winning at ASU two days earlier. Arizona routed OSU 87-60 to tie for the title and didn’t even bother cutting down the nets.
That was then, when the Wildcats were in a streak of seven championships in nine years. It was almost a secondary goal.
But now, 24 years later, cutting down the nets is a much anticipated and savored activity.
The two most memorable title-clinchers were the first, 1986 at Pauley Pavilion, and the last, 2011 at McKale. In ’86, UCLA’s Reggie Miller was quoted as saying Arizona “had no chance’’ to clinch on the Bruins’ court. Arizona won 88-76.
In 2011, after beating Oregon 90-82 at McKale, UA guard MoMo Jones led the Wildcats on an impromptu tour of the Zona Zoo, unprecedented in school history, while Aerosmith’s “Dream On’’ served as background music.
That was one of the most electric days in the long history of McKale Center. The chance to add to that legacy makes tonight’s game one of Arizona’s most fetching home games in 36 years of Pac-12 hoops.