January out of conference classics

Arizona has traditionally played tough games in the off game after they play ASU. Since the Pac-10 went to a Thursday/Saturday schedule in 91-92 the Wildcats have lined up series after series with impressive opponents. Not all of the games have been close, but almost every game has been memorable.

Jan. 28th, 2006 at UNC At the time the game had lost a lot of luster. The Wildcats were riding a three-game win streak but were still 13-6. The Tar Heels had yet to hit their stride. After the 86-69 win the young Tar Heels made a run, while the Wildcats proceeded to lose their next two. In 2003-04 and 2004-05 The Cats opened and closed the Pac-10 season with ASU and did not schedule any non-conference opponents.

Jan. 25th, 2003 at Kansas A game for the ages. The Wildcats went down by 20 before storming back and beating the Jayhawks 91-74. Unfortunately for the Wildcats the Jayhawks would get revenge later that season by beating the Wildcats in the Elite Eight.

Jan. 26th, 2002 UConn The Huskies came to McKale and there was no stopping Ben Gordon. Thanks to the hot-shooting guard, the Huskies were able to hold off Jason Gardner and a young Wildcats squad 100-98 in overtime.

Jan. 27th, 2001 Texas The Wildcats rolled to an 80-52 win over Texas, part of a six-game win streak and a larger streak of 20 wins over 23 games. It just one of eight straight wins over the Longhorns.

Jan. 29th 2000, at LSU Stromile Swift and the Tigers dismantled the Wildcats in what was at the time the worst loss of the Olson era. The fifth ranked Wildcats committed 17 turnovers, while Swift, a future Lottery pick, scored 29 points.

In 1999 the Wildcats played two games in the ASU weeks.

Jan. 16th, 1999 at New Mexico The game would have been memorable for the finish, but is now legendary because of the controversy. Jason Tarry gave the Wildcats the lead with 4.6 seconds left, but New Mexico won the game when John Robinson found Damon Walker for a bucket as the clock expired. The only problem was that the replay showed that the clock did not start for a few seconds after the Lobos in-bounded the ball, giving Robinson extra time to race up court. After the game Lute Olson vowed to never play the Lobos in the Pit again, and to date he hasn't.

Feb. 13th, 1999 LSU Jason Terry scored 25 points and played all 40 minutes to lead the Wildcats to the 78-71 win. It was their 28th consecutive home win, a streak that would stretch to 37 games before New Mexico would upend them in December of 1999.

Jan. 18th, 1998 New Mexico The Cats raced out to a 10-0 lead and never struggled against the 15th ranked Lobos in an 89-70 win.

February 9th, 1997 vs. Tulane in Phoenix Yet another great performance by Miles Simon at the old Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Simon scored 30 points as the Wildcats beat the 15th ranked Green Wave 81-62.

February 11th, 1996 vs. Cincinnati in Phoenix Simon to the rescue! Simon scored 17 points, but it was his final three that would be best remembered. Tied at 76 Danny Fortson was stripped of the ball and Simon heaved a ¾ court shots that found the bottom of the net and gave the Cats the three-point win.

Jan. 7th 1995 at Rhode Island To be honest, one of the more uneventful games on the list as the Cats rolled to an 82-67 win over the Rams.

Jan. 8th, 1994 at Marquette Six Wildcats scored in double figures as the Wildcats downed Marquette 94-80.

Jan. 23rd, 1993 at New Orleans The Cats downed New Orleans 72-69 but the game may best be remembered as the first time the five Wildcat freshman all played at the same time, in a meaningful portion of the game. Olson said that Reggie Geary, Edtrick Bohannon, Joe McLean, Joseph Blair and Corey Williams would see time on the floor together, regardless of the situation and he kept his word. McLean had only been pulled out of an attempted redshirt a few weeks prior and Olson wanted to find out how the group would perform together.

Feb. 21st, 1993 vs. Cincinnati in Phoenix Despite 31 points from Nick Van Exel the Wildcats downed the Bearcats 70-60. Chris Mills led the Cats with 23 points, while Ray Owes scored 16. Both players had nine rebounds, as did Ed Stokes.

Jan. 25th, 1992 Pitt The Cats scored the final eight points of the first half and then used an 11-0 second half run to put away the Panthers 96-76. Panther big man Darren Morningstar was heckled for most of the game by the Wildcat students for his hairdo. Sporting long sideburns the students chanted "90210" every time he touched the ball.

February 23rd, 1992 vs. Temple in St. Petersburg, FL Matt Othick saved the day. He scored 23 points, including seven three pointers to lift an otherwise cold-shooting Wildcats to a 66-60 won over the Owls.

Before that the Pac-10 did not always balance their schedule based on geographic rivalries. This actually gave the Cats more chances to schedule non-conference opponents during the Pac-10 season.

In 1991 the Wildcats played at Villanova (72-64 W), hosted Duke (103-96 W) and met Georgia Tech (56-62 L) in New Jersey. The Duke game is one of the best games of the Olson era as the Wildcats came from behind and finally upended the Blue Devils in two overtimes.

1990 saw the Cats host Oklahoma (78-74 W) and travel to Pitt (92-100 L), UNLV (87-95 L) and Duke (76-78 L)

In 1989 the slate called for a home win over Villanova, a road loss at Oklahoma, and a neutral court win over Duke, where a then unknown freshman named Christian Laettner missed two free throws late in the game to help the Cats prevail.

In 1988 the Cats beat Illinois at home, while 1987 saw them lose on the road to the Illini and lose in Iowa City to the Hawkeyes.

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