Slideshow: The best starts to a season in Arizona basketball history

January 12, 2014 12:00 am

This incarnation of Arizona Wildcats basketball is taking its talents to the record books. After beating USC in early January to set the record for best start to a season at 17-0, the Cats extended that and set the record for most wins in a row at 21 before losing to Cal on a last-second shot. Check out our list of the top 35 starts to a season by Arizona basketball teams, then meet the 14 teams that started 15-2 or better.

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  • Sean Miller's Arizona Wildcats picked up a sweep on the road in Los Angeles in early January to move to 17-0 for the first time in the program's 109 storied seasons. It is the best start in program history.

    Thirty-four times the UA has started with a 14-3 or better record in its first 17 games, and another team was 13-3 when its season ended.

    Take a look at our list of the hottest-starts in UA annals, and then peruse a slideshow of the 14 ultra-elite Arizona teams that won 15 or more games in their first 17 tries. 

    The 35 best 17-game starts in Arizona Wildcats basketball history

    YearStartFinal recordCoachPostseason/honors
    2013-1417-0 (extended to 21-0)???Sean Miller???
    2012-1316-127-8Sean MillerNCAA Sweet 16
    1987-8816-135-3Lute OlsonNCAA Final Four
    1946-4716-121-3Fred A. EnkeBorder Conference Champions
    1942-4316-122-2Fred A. EnkeBorder Conference Champions
    1931-3216-118-2Fred A. EnkeStarted 16-0 and Border Conference Champions
    2002-0315-228-4Lute OlsonNCAA Elite Eight
    1999-0015-227-7Lute OlsonNCAA second round
    1995-9615-227-6Lute OlsonNCAA Sweet 16
    1992-9315-224-4Lute OlsonNCAA first round
    1990-9115-228-7Lute OlsonNCAA Sweet 16
    1988-8915-229-4Lute OlsonNCAA Sweet 16
    1949-5015-226-5Fred A. EnkeNCAA District 6 playoffs
    1928-2915-219-4Fred A. Enkenone
    2010-1114-330-8Sean MillerNCAA Elite Eight
    2004-0514-330-7Lute OlsonNCAA Elite Eight
    1998-9914-322-6Lute OlsonNCAA first round appearance vacated because of violations
    1997-9814-330-5Lute OlsonNCAA Elite Eight
    1993-9414-329-6Lute OlsonNCAA Final Four
    1991-9214-324-7Lute OlsonNCAA first round
    1976-7714-321-6Fred SnowdenNCAA first round
    1974-7514-322-7Fred SnowdenNCIT* third round
    1950-5114-324-6Fred A. EnkeNCAA first round and NIT first round
    1932-3314-319-5Fred A. EnkeBorder Conference Champions
    1923-2414-314-3Basil Stanleynone
    1922-2314-316-4James H. Piercenone
    2006-0713-420-11Lute OlsonNCAA first round
    2003-0413-420-10Lute OlsonNCAA first round
    2001-0213-424-10Lute OlsonNCAA Sweet 16
    1996-9713-425-9Lute OlsonNCAA Champions
    1994-9513-424-7Lute OlsonNCAA first round
    1989-9013-425-7Lute OlsonNCAA second round
    1945-4613-425-5Fred A. EnkeNIT first round
    1926-2713-413-4Fred A. Enkenone
    1927-28**13-313-3Fred A. Enkenone

    * National Commissioner's Invitational Tournament

    ** Only played 16 total games

    • Coach: Sean Miller
    • Start to season: 21-0
    • Notable: Beat Michigan, San Diego State and UCLA on road; beat Duke at neutral venue. Held No. 1 spot in AP and coaches polls for 5 weeks and counting
    • Coach: Sean Miller
    • Start through 17 games: 16-1
    • Final record: 27-8
    • Postseason: Beat Belmont in first round of NCAA Tournament, beat Harvard in second round, lost to Ohio State in Sweet 16
    • Coach: Lute Olson
    • Final record: 35-3
    • Postseason: Beat Cornell in first round of NCAA Tournament, beat Seton Hall in second round, beat Iowa in Sweet 16, beat North Carolina in Elite Eight, lost to Oklahoma in Final Four
    • Coach: Fred A. Enke
    • Final record: 21-3
    • Postseason: Won Border Conference
    • Coach: Fred A. Enke
    • Final record: 22-2
    • Postseason: Won Border Conference
    • Coach: Fred A. Enke
    • Final record: 18-2
    • Postseason: Won Border Conference after Arizona-record 16-0 start to season.
    • Coach: Lute Olson
    • Final record: 28-4
    • Postseason: Beat Vermont in first round of NCAA Tournament, beat Gonzaga in two overtimes in second round of NCAA Tournament, beat Notre Dame in Sweet 16, lost to Kansas in Elite Eight
    • Coach: Lute Olson
    • Final record: 27-7
    • Postseason: Beat Jackson State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, lost to Wisconsin in second round.
    • Coach: Lute Olson
    • Final record: 27-6
    • Postseason: Beat Valparaiso in first round of NCAA Tournament, beat Iowa in second round, lost to Kansas in Sweet 16
    • Coach: Lute Olson
    • Final record: 24-4
    • Postseason: Lost to Santa Clara in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
    • Coach: Lute Olson
    • Final record: 28-7
    • Postseason: Beat St. Francis in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, beat BYU in the second round, lost to Seton Hall in the Sweet 16
    • Coach: Lute Olson
    • Final record: 29-4
    • Postseason: Beat Robert Morris in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, beat Clemson in the second round, lost to UNLV in the Sweet 16.
    • Coach: Fred A. Enke
    • Final record: 26-5
    • Postseason: Lost to LaSalle in first round of NIT.
    • Coach: Fred A. Enke
    • Final record: 19-4
    • Postseason: No postseason games
    • Notable: Lost twice to USC and twice to NAU for only losses of season. Beat teams such as Chandler Millers, Arizona Storage, Bisbee YMCA. Beat Phoenix Junior College 59-5. It was a much different game back then!
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