Slideshow: Arizona's 16th just as Sweet as the first

March 28, 2014 12:05 am

In 1976, the Bob Elliott-led Wildcats (coached by Fred Snowden), played in their first round of 16 in an NCAA tournament. After beating UNLV 114-109 in overtime, they were summarily dismissed from by a tail-end version of the UCLA powerhouse of yesteryear. Since then, Arizona has returned to the second weekend of NCAA play 15 more times, and with a hard-fought win over San Diego State on March 27, the Cats now have 10 wins in those games. That's also 16 appearances in 38 years, meaning the Cats make it past the first weekend about 42 percent of the time. Take a peek at the history of Arizona in the Sweet 16 in our slideshow.

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  • The Wildcats' 16th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 10-6
    • Who was the star? Aaron Gordon early, Nick Johnson late. Gordon, much maligned for his iffy jump shot, was the rock that kept Arizona in a game that San Diego State controlled most of the way. As Nick Johnson struggled and fellow forwards Kaleb Tarczewski and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson dealt with foul trouble, Gordon shot 7 for 9, hit a three-pointer, snagged six boards, dished out two steals, blocked a shot, turned it over just once and had another signature "how-the-heck-does-he-jump-that-high" alley-oop finish that gave the Cats the charge they needed to stay close until Johnson could find his way. And find his way he did. After starting the game 0 for 10 and scoring zero points through the first 37 minutes and 14 seconds, the Pac-12 Player of the Year and soon-to-be consensus first-team All-American came alive with 2:46 left to score 15 points and hit 10 consecutive free throws as Arizona advanced to its second Elite Eight under Sean Miller.
    • How it went down: The Aztecs, 31-4 heading into the game, came out with fire in their eyes and bounce in their step. By the time 3 minutes had passed, San Diego State had grabbed five offensive rebounds and held Arizona to just two points. Until the big alley-oop in the second half, the Aztecs controlled the game on both ends of the court. Only Arizona's excellent defense and the work of freshmen Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson kept them in it. Once Gordon threw that dunk down, though, the momentum had clearly shifted. And once Nick Johnson got a layup and then a three-pointer, it was all Cats. 
  • The Wildcats' 15th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 9-6
    • Who was the star? Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross, who found enough separation from Arizona's Grant Jerrett to hit the game-winning three-pointer. 
    • How it went down: Arizona led by 11 points in the first half and by four at halftime. But they came out cold in the second half and went without a basket for almost five and a half minutes as OSU built a six-point lead. Arizona's Mark Lyons engaged in some heroics, including a late three-point play to tie the game, but Ross ended Arizona's title hopes seconds later.
  • The Wildcats' 14th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 9-5
    • Who was the star? Arizona's Derrick Williams scored 25 first-half points, and the Pac-12 Player of the Year ended up with 32 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.
    • How it went down: The Cats needed Williams' bonkers first half (he made five three-pointers, including a beyond-NBA-range bomb before the buzzer) just to stay close to top-seeded Duke, which scored 44 points and held a six-point halftime lead. But in the second half, it was Duke looking for a Derrick Williams — and finding none. The sensational rout wasn't enough to make up for the Wildcats' title-game loss to the Blue Devils in 2001, but nobody in the desert complained as Arizona outscored Duke 55-33 in the blowout win that put the team a game away from the Final Four. 
  • The Wildcats' 13th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 8-5
    • Who was the star? Louisville's defense. The pressing, trapping squad forced Russ Pennell's plucky Cats into a 38.1 percent shooting performance and 14 turnovers.
    • How it went down: This one was a yakker from the start. Arizona never led, and Rick Pitino's Cardinals took a 49-28 halftime lead and just continued to pour it on in the second half. Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger and Nic Wise combined for 50 points, but the rest of the Cats only managed 14 more. Oh, and Louisville also hit 14 of 29 three-pointers and shot 57.6 from the floor.
  • The Wildcats' 12th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 8-4
    • Who was the star? Salim Stoudamire stamped an eternal place in UA lore when he capped a 10-point personal run in the last 4:35 of the game with an off-balance baseline jumper that gave the Cats the win and a trip to the Elite Eight. 
    • How it went down: In a tight, gripping tourney contest, Arizona's shooting beat out Oklahoma State's physicality and turnover-generation. The Cats blistered the nets with a 66 percent shooting performance (and 7 of 14 from deep), while Oklahoma State forced 14 Arizona turnovers and hung tough despite shooting just 43.9 percent. In the end, Arizona's star hit his shot, while Oklahoma State's star guard, John Lucas III, could not – his last-ditch attempt fell away from the basket harmlessly.
  • The Wildcats' 11th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 7-4
    • Who was the star? Arizona's three-point shooters. Salim Stoudamire hit 3 of 4, Jason Gardner knocked down 3 of 5 and Rick Anderson hit 1 of 2 as the Cats outdid the Fighting Irish at their own strength.
    • How it went down: Notre Dame hit five straight baskets to start the game, but Arizona settled in and went to work, built a huge lead and rolled to the Elite Eight behind good teamwork. Gardner dished out six assists, and Luke Walton had 16 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
  • The Wildcats' 10th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 6-4
    • Who was the star? Hollis Price. Oklahoma's superstitious star went back to the locker room to wash his hands after shooting poorly in warmups. With his "new set of hands" on, as he put it, he came out and drilled a season-high six three-pointers en route to 26 points.
    • How it went down: Price scored 22 of the Sooners' 33 first-half points, and Arizona led by four at the break. But like Arizona's game against Duke in 2011, the Sooners went bonkers in the second half behind Ebi Ere and Aaron McGhee's combined 35 points and outscored Arizona 55-30 to blow the doors off of HP Pavilion in San Jose. 
  • The Wildcats' 9th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 6-3
    • Who was the star? Loren Woods and Richard Jefferson. The 7-1 center and 6-7 forward, respectively, combined for 31 points and 22 rebounds to help Arizona overcome a 23-point first half and advance.
    • How it went down: Mississippi, the SEC's best defensive team in 2001, had an early 16-0 run – but only led by a point at halftime. Arizona calmed down, took the lead back early in the second half and rode Woods and Jefferson to the Elite Eight and, eventually, the national title-game loss to Duke.
  • The Wildcats' 8th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 5-3
    • Who was the star? Mike Bibby. Arizona's sophomore star scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half to help the Cats weather a solid effort from the Terrapins.
    • How it went down: The two teams played close through the first 30 minutes of the game after Arizona won its first two tourney games by 72 points combined. Michael Dickerson scored five points to break it open with about 10 minutes left and the Cats advanced to the Elite Eight, where they were blown out and stunned by Utah.
  • The Wildcats' 7th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 4-3
    • Who was the star? Unheralded forward/center A.J. Bramlett scored 12 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and helped keep Kansas star big men Raef LaFrentz and Scot Pollard to 14 points (Pollard was held without a point).
    • How it went down: Heading into the game, top-seeded Kansas was the heavy favorite. Many basketball scholars today consider that team, despite losing to Arizona, one of the top 10 in college basketball history. LaFrentz was one of the NCAA's best-ever post players, and Paul Pierce was the same force there that he has been in his soon-to-be Hall of Fame NBA career. Point guard Jacque Vaughn and Pollard also had NBA careers. But Arizona, despite one of its worst years record-wise under Lute Olson (they entered tournament play 19-9), was more than game. In a game regarded as a tournament classic, the teams traded blows until LaFrentz's final shot to tie the game fell short. Mike Bibby, Michael Dickerson and Miles Simon combined for 58 points, and Arizona's magical run through three straight No. 1 seeds to a national title began.
  • The Wildcats' 6th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 3-3
    • Who was the star? Kansas guard Jacque Vaughn and wing Jerod Haase combined for 29 points and 19 assists as Kansas and Arizona played the first of two straight epic Sweet 16 games in as many years.
    • How it went down: Arizona led 27-15 after eight minutes, and guards Miles Simon, Michael Dickerson and Corey Williams were playing well. But Kansas was the more poised, more together team that night, and it battled back and made the plays when they counted. With Arizona up 79-78 late, Michael Dickerson rushed and missed a jump shot with a minute left. Kansas responded by running the offense and getting an open three by Haase from Vaughn, and that was that.
  • The Wildcats' 5th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 3-2
    • Who was the star? Khalid Reeves, who set the Arizona record for points per game average in a season (24.2), scored 29 points as Arizona rolled to the Elite Eight.
    • How it went down: Arizona's Ray Owes and Joseph Blair set a physical tone in the paint for Arizona, and Damon Stoudamire (seven assists) found Reeves often as the Cats built a 35-26 halftime lead and won going away. Arizona held the Cardinals to 37.3 percent shooting to help erase a series of early-round exits en route to the team's second Final Four appearance.
  • The Wildcats' 4th Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 2-2
    • Who was the star? Terry Dehere. The Pirates' top player scored a game-high 28 points on 8-of-14 shooting and 10 of 11 from the line to help the No. 3 seed upend the No. 2-seeded Cats.
    • How it went down: Despite facing a front line of Brian Williams (6-10), Sean Rooks (6-11) and Ed Stokes (7-0), Seton Hall outshot Arizona 50 percent to 49.2 percent and hung with the Cats on the boards (28 for Seton Hall, 30 for Arizona). Guard Matt Othick had an open look from three to tie the game late, but it fell away harmlessly as the Pirates advanced.
  • The Wildcats' 3rd Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 2-1
    • Who was the star? Anderson Hunt. The defense-minded Runnin' Rebels got an 8-of-12 shooting performance and 21 points from their off guard, and he hit the controversial game-winning shot at the buzzer.
    • How it went down: In Sean Elliott's last game as a Wildcat, he didn't disappoint. He had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and overcame a stellar defensive effort from UNLV star Stacey Augmon. But in a tight game between the No. 1 (Arizona) and No. 4 seeds, the last play was the difference. Hunt had the ball, with UNLV down two. Wildcat Kenny Lofton guarded him close. Hunt bumped him, and Lofton went to the ground. No call. Hunt pivoted, shot and nailed a three-pointer to end the game, season and career of the Wildcats' all-time best player.
  • The Wildcats' 2nd Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 2-0
    • Who was the star? Sean Elliott. Arizona's first trip to the Sweet 16 under Lute Olson went as well as expected for the top-seeded and then 34-2 Cats thanks to their star's 25 points and eight assists.
    • How it went down: Iowa, led by NBA star B.J. Armstrong's 27 points, cut down an Arizona lead to trail 38-34 at the half. But Elliott and Steve Kerr (17 points and eight assists) put on an offensive clinic to start the second half, and not much later, the rout was on. Kerr hit four threes in the second half, and Elliott finished 11 for 18 from the floor. Arizona shot 56.1 percent and rolled to the Elite Eight.
  • The Wildcats' 1st Sweet 16

    • Sweet 16 record after game: 1-0
    • Who was the star? Backup point guard Jim Rappis scored 24 points with 12 assists to assist star Bob Elliott and coach Fred Snowden to the Cats' first win in a round of 16 in school history.
    • How it went down: UNLV averaged 110 points per game (not a typo). Arizona, though, was game. It shot 57.9 percent from the field and rode Rappis' leadership to the round of eight, where UCLA dumped them.
  • Inside the numbers

    • Arizona's overall record in Sweet 16 games: 10-6
    • Arizona's Sweet 16 record as No. 1 seed: 4-1
    • Arizona's Sweet 16 record vs. No. 4 seeds: 2-1
    • Arizona's Sweet 16 record at Honda Center: 4-0
    • Arizona's Sweet 16 record with 30 wins or more entering game: 5-0
    • Sean Miller in Sweet 16s: 2-1
    • Russ Pennell in Sweet 16s: 0-1
    • Lute Olson in Sweet 16s: 7-4
    • Fred Snowden's record in Sweet 16s: 1-0

    The chart

    YearSeason recordCoachSweet 16 resultSweet 16 locationFinal season result
    2013-1432-4 (West No. 1)Sean MillerBeat San Diego State (No. 4) 70-64Honda Center (Anaheim; Calif.)???
    2012-1327-8 (West No. 6)Sean MillerLost to Ohio State (No. 2) 73-70Staples Center (Los Angeles)
    2010-1130-8 (West No. 5)Sean MillerBeat Duke (No. 1) 93-77Honda Center (Anaheim; Calif.)Lost to Connecticut (No. 3) 65-63 in Elite Eight
    2008-0921-14 (Midwest No. 12)Russ PennellLost to Louisville (No. 1) 103-64Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
    2004-0530-7 (Chicago No. 5)Lute OlsonBeat Oklahoma State (No. 2) 79-78Allstate Arena (Rosemont; Ill.)Lost to Illinois (No. 1) 90-89 in OT in Elite Eight
    2002-0328-4 (West No. 1)Lute OlsonBeat Notre (No. 5) Dame 88-71Honda Center (Calif.)Lost to Kansas (No. 2) 78-75 in Elite Eight
    2001-0224-10 (West No. 3)Lute OlsonLost to Oklahoma (West No. 2) 88-67Allstate Arena (Rosemont; Ill.)
    2000-0128-8 (Midwest No. 2)Lute OlsonBeat Mississippi (No. 3) 66-56Honda Center (Anaheim; Calif.)Lost to Duke (East No. 1) 82-72 in NCAA title game
    1997-9830-5 (West No. 1)Lute OlsonBeat Maryland (No. 4) 87-79HP Pavilion (San Jose; Calif.)Lost to Utah (No. 3) 76-51 in Elite Eight
    1996-9725-9 (Southeast No. 4)Lute OlsonBeat Kansas (No. 1) 85-82Alamodome (San Antonio)Beat Kentucky (West No. 1) 84-79 in OT for NCAA title
    1995-9627-6 (West No. 3)Lute OlsonLost to Kansas (No. 2) 83-80McNichols Arena (Denver)
    1993-9429-6 (West No. 2)Lute OlsonBeat Louisville (No. 3) 82-70Los Angeles Memorial Sports ArenaLost to Arkansas (Midwest No. 1) 91-82 in Final Four
    1990-9128-7 (West No. 2)Lute OlsonLost to Seton Hall (No. 3) 81-77Kingdome (Seattle)
    1988-8929-4 (West No. 1)Lute OlsonLost to UNLV (No. 4) 68-67McNichols Arena (Denver)
    1987-8835-3 (West No. 1)Lute OlsonBeat Iowa (No. 5) 99-79Kingdome (Seattle)Lost to Oklahoma (Southeast No. 1) 86-78 in Final Four
    1975-7624-9 (No seeding)Fred SnowdenBeat UNLV 114-109 in OTLos AngelesLost to UCLA 88-62 in round of eight
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