Arizona basketball: Border Conference to the Big Dance

A look at Arizona's previous trips to the Round of 16
2013-03-28T00:00:00Z 2013-03-28T12:03:25Z Arizona basketball: Border Conference to the Big DanceArizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

1951

• City of Tucson population: 45,454

• In Arizona's bracket: Kansas State, BYU and San Jose State. The 1951 NCAA tournament included just 16 teams.

• How they got there: Arizona won its sixth straight Border Conference championship with a 15-1 record and qualified for the NCAA tournament only after losing to Dayton in the NIT.

• And then … Kansas State bounced the Wildcats from their first NCAA tournament game, winning 61-59 in Kansas City, Mo. K-State advanced to the championship game, where it lost to Kentucky.

• Best players: UA's Bob Honea averaged 12.8 points per game, and Leo Johnson grabbed 12.4 rebounds per game.

1976

• Best picture: "Rocky"

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: UNLV, Pepperdine and UCLA

• How they got there: The Wildcats won the Western Athletic Conference with an 11-3 record, then blew past Georgetown in the first round of the then-32-team tournament.

• And then … The UA outlasted burgeoning rival UNLV 114-109 in overtime. The win moved Arizona to its first ever Elite Eight, where the team lost to UCLA 82-66.

• Best player: Bob Elliott averaged 18 points and 10.3 rebounds, both team highs.

1988

• Tucson's average high temperature in March: 99 degrees, a record that still stands.

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: Iowa, Michigan and North Carolina.

• How they got there: Led by stars Sean Elliott and Steve Kerr, Arizona won the Pac-10's regular season with a 17-1 record, took the conference tournament and - as a No. 1 seed in the West Region - rolled past Cornell and Seton Hall by a combined 69 points.

• And then … Arizona defeated Iowa (above) and North Carolina in Seattle to advance to its first-ever Final Four. (Oklahoma defeated the UA 86-78 in the national semifinal.)

• Best players: Elliott averaged 19.6 points per game as a junior, and was named a first-team Associated Press All-American. Kerr hit 114 three-pointers, a program record that stood until 2005.

1989

• Song of the year: "Look Away" by Chicago

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: UNLV, Seton Hall and Indiana

• How they got there: Arizona won the Pac-10 regular season and conference tournament, then - as the No. 1 seed in the West Region - defeated Robert Morris and Clemson in Boise, Idaho, to advance to the Sweet 16.

• And then … UNLV defeated the Wildcats 68-67 in one of the biggest heartbreakers in program history. The game was played in Denver.

• Best player: Sean Elliott (above), again. The greatest Wildcat of all time averaged 22.3 points and 7.2 rebounds, was named AP All-American - again - and won the John R. Wooden Award, given to the nation's top player.

1991

• Top news story: The United States enters "Operation Desert Storm" in Iraq

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: Seton Hall, Utah and UNLV

• How they got there: The UA won the Pac-10 with a 14-4 regular season mark, then beat St. Francis (Pa.) and BYU as a No. 2 seed in the West.

• And then … Third-seeded Seton Hall bested Khalid Reeves (above) and the Wildcats 81-77 in the Sweet 16. UNLV beat Seton Hall in the Elite Eight, then lost to Duke in the Final Four.

• Best players: The forwards. Chris Mills led the team with 15.6 points per game, Brian Williams averaged 7.8 rebounds per game, and Sean Rooks registered 35 blocks - the second-most in program history at that point.

1994

• Sports story of the year: A labor stoppage forces the first cancellation of baseball's World Series since 1904.

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: Louisville, Syracuse and Missouri

• How they got there: The Wildcats won the Pac-10 with a 14-4 mark, then - as a No. 2 seed in the West Regional - defeated Loyola (Md.) and Virginia in Sacramento.

• And then … The Wildcats punched their tickets to another Final Four. Lute Olson won one of the most star-studded regions of his era. He bested Denny Crum's Louisville team, behind Damon Stoudamire (above), and Norm Stewart's Missouri Tigers in back-to-back games to advance. The Wildcats fell to Arkansas, the eventual national champions, in the national semifinal.

• Best player: Khalid Reeves led the team with 24.2 points per game and hit 85 three-pointers during the season.

1996

• Toy of the year: Tickle Me Elmo

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: Kansas, Syracuse and Georgia

• How they got there: The UA finished second in the Pac-10 with a 13-5 record, and then- as a No. 3 seed in the West - thumped Valparaiso by 39 points and Iowa by 14.

• And then … Kansas edged Miles Simon (above) and the Cats 83-80 in the Sweet 16 in Denver.

• Best player: Ben Davis led the team with 14.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

1997

• Average cost of gas: $1.20/gallon

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: Kansas, Providence and Chattanooga.

• How they got there: The Wildcats posted an 11-7 conference record, good for fifth in a competitive league. As a No. 4 seed in the Southeast Region, the Wildcats defeated South Alabama 65-57 and College of Charleston by four.

• And then … You know. Powered by freshman Mike Bibby and "Cool Cat" Miles Simon, the Wildcats defeated top-seeded Kansas in the Sweet 16. The Wildcats edged Providence in overtime to make the Final Four, then beat two more top seeds - North Carolina and Kentucky - for the national championship. The 84-79 overtime win over the Rick Pitino-coached Wildcats stands as the greatest moment in program history.

• Best players: It was Michael Dickerson (above, right), not Simon or Bibby, that led the team in scoring. His 18.9 points were most on the team. A.J. Bramlett grabbed 6.9 rebounds per game, and Simon and Bibby shepherded the team during the tournament.

1998

• Top UA sports story: The Wildcats football team posts a 12-1 record, winning the Holiday Bowl and ascending to a No. 3 national ranking.

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: Maryland, Utah and West Virginia

• How they got there: The Wildcats played like defending national champions during the regular season, posting a 17-1 league mark and earning a No. 1 seed in the West. The Wildcats beat Nicholls State by 39 points and Illinois State by 33, advancing to the Sweet 16 in Anaheim, Calif.

• And then … The Wildcats defeated Maryland - and then Utah happened. Future NBA star Andre Miller dashed the Wildcats' hopes in the Elite Eight as Utah defeated the UA 76-51. The Utes advanced all the way to the championship game, where they lost to Kentucky.

• Best player: Mike Bibby (above). The sophomore led the team with 199 assists and 84 steals, and also averaged 17.2 points per game.

2001

• Top broadway musical: "The Producers"

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: Ole Miss, Illinois and Kansas.

• How they got there: The Wildcats went 15-3 in the Pac-10, good for second place, then drew a No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional. The Wildcats defeated Eastern Illinois in the first round, and a Thad Matta-coached Butler team in the second.

• And then … The UA took San Antonio by storm, beating Mississippi and Illinois to advance to the Final Four. The Wildcats defeated Michigan State in the national semifinal before falling to Duke, 82-72.

• Best players: Arizona's team boasted a half-dozen future pros, but sophomore guard Gilbert Arenas might have been the best of the bunch. "Agent Zero" averaged 16.2 points per game, while the tough-as-nails Michael Wright (above, No. 2) added 7.8 rebounds per contest.

2002

• Emmy for top comedy: "Friends"

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: Oklahoma, Missouri and UCLA.

• How they got there: UA went 12-6 to finish second in the Pac-12, then won the conference tournament to draw a No. 3 seed in the West.

• And then … Luke Walton (above) and the Wildcats lost to Oklahoma for the third time in the tournament in 15 years, falling 88-67 to the second-seeded Sooners in San Jose, Calif. Oklahoma beat No. 12 seed Missouri in the Elite Eight, then lost in the national semifinals to Indiana.

• Best player: Junior Jason Gardner averaged 20.4 points per game to go along with 4.6 assists and 1.6 steals. He connected on 3.1 three-pointers a game, and hit on .384 of his long-distance shots.

2003

• Motor Trend Car of the Year: Infiniti G35

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: Notre Dame, Kansas and Duke.

• How they got there: The Cats went 17-1 to win the Pac-10, losing only to Stanford in conference play. UA earned a No. 1 seed in the West Region, where the Cats defeated Vermont in the first round, then snuck past Gonzaga in double-overtime in a classic to move on to the Sweet 16.

• And then … The Wildcats defeated Notre Dame 88-71 before falling to second-seeded Kansas 78-75 in Anaheim. The Jayhawks beat Marquette to advance to the national championship game, where they fell to freshman Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse, 81-78.

• Best player: Jason Gardner (above, with ball). The four-year starter at point guard scored 472 points, dished 158 assists and had 58 steals in his final season.

2005

• Most Googled item of the year: Janet Jackson's "Wardrobe Malfunction"

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: Oklahoma State, Illinois and Wisconsin-Milwaukee

• How they got there: Arizona went 15-3 in Pac-10 play, then - as a No. 3 seed - defeated Utah State and UAB in Boise, earning a spot in the Sweet 16, held in Chicago.

• And then … The Wildcats edged Oklahoma State 79-78, advancing to the Elite Eight. They appeared destined for a Final Four in the second half before blowing a late 15-point lead. The Illini won 90-89 in overtime, and advanced to the national title game before losing to North Carolina.

• Best player: Salim Stoudamire (above). The Wildcats' sharpshooter hit a school-record 120 three-pointers; his 50.4 shooting percentage on threes was the best since Kerr shot .573 in 1988.

2009

• Top tabloid story: Tiger Woods leaves professional golf to focus on his marriage.

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: Louisville, Kansas and Michigan State

• How they got there: The Wildcats snuck into the NCAA tournament as a No. 12 seed after finishing 9-9 in conference play under interim coach Russ Pennell. The Wildcats beat fifth-seeded Utah, then bounced No. 13 seed Cleveland State to advance to the Sweet 16.

• And then … Top-seeded Louisville routed the Wildcats 103-64, ending Pennell's tenure in Tucson. Arizona hired Xavier's Sean Miller the following month.

• Best player: Jordan Hill (above) averaged 18.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.

2011

• Tucson metro population: 989,569

• In Arizona's Sweet 16 bracket: Duke, San Diego State and Connecticut

• How they got there: Led by one of the nation's most exciting players, Derrick Williams (above), UA won the Pac-10's regular-season title with a 14-4 record. The Wildcats were given a No. 5 seed in the West Region. Miller's first UA tourney team defeated Memphis in the first round, then beat Texas in the second.

• And then … Williams and the Cats thumped top-seeded Duke 93-77 in Anaheim. Jamelle Horne's three-pointer went wide at the buzzer in the 65-63 loss to UConn. The Huskies went on to win the national championship.

• Best player: Williams. The explosive forward averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore, and was named the Pac-12 player of the year.

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