Time: 8:30 p.m. Tucson time
Location: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300), Honolulu, Hawaii
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach) [Sirius/XM: 139/193]
TV: ESPNU (Roxy Bernstein/Miles Simon)
While Arizona chases history tonight, its fans hope to erase its memory of a first-round upset loss to East Tennessee State in the 1992 NCAA tournament. The No. 2-seed Wildcats — which featured the likes of Damon Stoudamire, Khalid Reeves, Chris Mills and Sean Rooks — were upset by the Buccaneers 87-80 in Atlanta. It is the first meeting between the two programs since that game. Wayne Womack led the Wildcats with 19 points, including 13 in the second half.
If you watch the YouTube video below, you’ll hear how confident East Tennessee State was playing Arizona after the Buccaneers played a good game before losing 88-79 in Tucson the year before in the Preseason NIT. This year’s East Tennessee State team is not as dangerous as that era of Buccaneer basketball but the Wildcats can’t get caught looking ahead.
They are trying to become only the second team in the program’s history to start 10-0. The 1987-88 team started 12-0. Arizona can also move up at least one spot in the AP Top 25 by virtue of No. 3 Syracuse’s loss to Temple today.
PAC-12 RPI RATINGS (CBSSPORTS.COM)
SOS is strength of schedule ranking
CLIMBING THE LADDER TO NO. 1
For the second consecutive game, the Wildcats will face the son of a legendary coach. Murry Bartow, son of ex-UCLA coach Gene Bartow (a former assistant to John Wooden with the Bruins) will coach East Tennessee State against Arizona. On Tuesday, the Wildcats defeated Oral Roberts, which is coached by Scott Sutton, son of Eddie Sutton. The Bartows rank fourth in combined father-son victories (929) behind the Suttons (1,054), the Ibas (Henry and Moe, 990) and the Knights (Bob and Pat, 975). Murry Bartow has used eight different starting lineups in the team’s nine games this season. Injuries and dismissals have left the ETSU coaching staff searching for the right combination to start games.
Trivia question?: When is the only time Lute Olson has coached against Arizona? It happened in the 1975 Rainbow Classic in Hawaii. Iowa, coached by Olson, defeated Arizona 82-80 in a controversial second-round game of the Rainbow Classic on Dec. 29, 1975. “I probably played something like 114 games in my career at Arizona , and a lot of wins did not stick out like that loss,” former center Bob Elliott, laughing, told me in 1996 when I first wrote about the encounter for The Arizona Daily Star. “We fought hard to get back into the game, and for it to be decided on a (referee) call like that . . .”
Iowa, which led 35-7 12 minutes into the game, barely hung on to beat the Wildcats in what could have been Arizona’s greatest comeback. Arizona slowly chipped away at the deficit in the second half, and with 14 seconds remaining, the Wildcats tied the game at 80 on a basket by Elliott. Iowa raced downcourt after Elliott’s basket, choosing not to call a timeout, and the Hawkeyes missed a jumper. But Iowa center Dan Frost grabbed the rebound, and he was fouled as he attempted a shot at the buzzer. Frost went to the line to try the game-winning free throws after Arizona departed for its locker room. Arizona coach Fred Snowden argued the foul was called after the buzzer and he was so incensed that he ordered his team off the court. “We walked off the court in anger, and the only way we knew (Frost) made the free throws was by listening to the Iowa crowd,” Elliott told me.
Arizona has made 10 in-season tournament appearances tournaments in Hawaii, beginning in 1968 at the Rainbow Classic. Most of the Wildcats’ appearances have been in the Maui Invitational. The UA finished first there in 2000, second twice (1993 and 1997), fourth (2005) and sixth (2009). Miller participated in the 1990 Rainbow Classic, leading Pittsburgh to a runner-up finish. … Arizona sophomore guard Nick Johnson started the season with 21 assists with only four turnovers and now has 32 assists with 15 turnovers — still a better than 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. … Arizona freshman forward Brandon Ashley has nearly as many blocked shots as he does turnovers, a sign of a highly-efficient big man. Ashley leads the Wildcats with 13 blocked shots. He has 15 turnovers. … East Tennessee State is starting from scratch. Murry Bartow is dealing with the loss of three senior starters — seniors such as Adam Sollazzo, Isiah Brown and Tommy Hubbard. That group combined for a total of 3,091 points in their careers. The Bucs enjoyed quality wins such as a road victory over Atlantic 10 Conference foe Charlotte, and finished with a respectable 17 victories. This season, the Bucs’ top two returning starters were guards Sheldon Cooley and Marcus Dubose, who both combined to score 19.7 points per game a year ago. However, both Cooley and Dubose have been dismissed from the team for violation of team rules and policies.
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner