HONOLULU -- I'm guessing there's at least a few of you who remember the last time Arizona and East Tennessee State played.
It was in the first round of the 1992 NCAA tournament, when 14th-seeded ETSU knocked off Arizona.
Here’s a wire story on the game and an excerpt of the Star's game story from March 20, 1992 is below:
The Wildcats' season concluded last night because they were beaten in every facet of the game by East Tennessee State, that tiny school from Johnson City with the quickest team Arizona faced all season.
The Buccaneers became the eighth No.14 seed to win a first-round NCAA Tournament game with an 87-80 win over the No.3 Wildcats before 12,725 mostly-ETSU fans at the Omni. The UA is the highest seeded team to lose in the first round.
"Somebody asked me yesterday if I thought it would be an upset if we beat them. What do you think?" ETSU coach Alan LeForce said. "Our team hasn't gotten the respect it deserves. I think we'll get it now."
The Bucs were confident, almost cocky. After losing in the first round three straight years, they talked all week about playing a second game. They also talked of the confidence gained from an 88-79 loss at Arizona in the 1990 preseason NIT. The Bucs won because they combined that confidence with quickness and brilliant three-point shooting. They were 13-for-25 from three-point range (52percent).
"No matter what we tried to do to counteract their quickness, they took advantage of it," UA coach Lute Olson said. "The difference was their ability to shoot threes, and their quickness created problems for us."
Rodney English led the Bucs with 21 points, and Calvin Talford added 15. English had 12 points in the critical first half, when the Bucs built an 11-point lead. ETSU's lead reached 16 points in the second half.
But Arizona rallied late in the game, as Sean Rooks and Damon Stoudamire hit consecutive threes to narrow ETSU's lead to 82-78 with 36 seconds left. Marty Story then made 1 of 2 free throws with 35 seconds left. Stoudamire countered with two free throws to cut ETSU's lead to 83-80. The Bucs tried to hold the ball, but Greg Dennis, a 78percent free-throw shooter, made two foul shots with 22 seconds left to secure the win.
"Typical of these games, we expended so much energy getting back into the game, that when it gets to the point you can take control, you're unable to put the shots in," Olson said.
Senior Wayne Womack led the UA with 19 points - including 13 in the second half - and 13 rebounds. Khalid Reeves finished with just four, and Matt Othick was scoreless.
Typical of the Wildcats' losses all season, they shot poorly - 36.8percent from the field, 23.5-percent from three-point range. The poor shooting offset the UA's 52-35 rebounding advantage.
The Bucs established their game plan on the opening possession. English, ETSU's leading scorer, hit a three-point shot from the left wing. It was the first of 11 threes the Bucs would make in the first half alone - a record for a UA opponent.
"In the beginning, we weren't doing a good job getting into them," Othick said. "They hit a few and got confidence, and it went down from there."
This year's Bucs, however, may bear little resemblance to that team. They are 1-7 against Division I teams, undersized, undermanned and without the ability to shoot three-pointers well.
The Buccaneers lost over half of their scoring from last season – three starters who totaled over 3,000 points in their careers – and that’s when things were looking OK.
Then ETSU’s top two returning scorers, guards Sheldon Cooley and Marcus Dubose, were dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules and policies.
And forward Lucas Poderis, a good post defender who was one of only two other returning players with significant minutes, was lost for the season with a foot injury.
Sorry could not post Thursday but it was a long travel day to Honolulu. As Jim Rosborough once said, it's always tough when you have to go to Hawaii...