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Arizona Wildcats

Updated Mar 27, 2013 - 5:55 pm

Arizona Wildcats: A history of Sweet 16 appearances

The Arizona Wildcats have reached the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 a total of 15 times.

Thursday's appearance, in which the Cats will face off against Ohio State, will be the third in the last five years and second under head coach Sean Miller.

Here's a look at each game the Wildcats have played in the round of 16.

1976 - Fred Snowden's team took care of Georgetown in the quarterfinals, winning 83-76, and then beat UNLV 114-109 in overtime. From there the Wildcats faced off against UCLA, where Herman Harris' 18 points were not enough to beat John Wooden's Bruins.

1988 - Lute Olson's program had been on the upswing for a couple years, and its first appearance in the Final Four came this season. A number one seed, Arizona handled Cornell 90-50 and Seton Hall 84-55 to reach the round of 16, before going on to beat Iowa 99-79. Sean Elliott led the Cats with 25 points, Steve Kerr chipped in 17, Anthony Cook scored 19 and Tom Tolbert tallied 17 in the win. Arizona would go on to beat North Carolina and advance to the Final Four, where it would lose to Oklahoma.

1989 - Much was expected of Arizona after reaching the Final Four the prior season, and the top-seeded Cats did not disappoint, at least early on. Olson's squad cruised by Robert Morris and Clemson, respectively, but ran into trouble against four-seed UNLV. Sean Elliott scored 22 for Arizona, Anthony Cook added 12 and Jud Buechler chipped in 10, but that was it for Cats in double figures. Anderson Hunt's three with four seconds left put UNLV ahead 68-67 and sent Arizona packing.

1991 - A two seed, the Wildcats had an easy time in wins over St. Francis and BYU, but ran into trouble against Seton Hall. The Pirates, who won 81-77, got 28 points from Terry Dehere while the Cats got 21 from Brian Williams and 20 from Chris Mills.

1994 - A 29-6 regular season and Pac-10 championship was good enough for the Cats to earn a two seed, and Lute Olson's squad made quick work of Loyola (Md.) and Virginia to reach the Sweet 16. Khalid Reeves' 29 points led Arizona past Louisville, and two days later the Cats knocked off Missouri to reach the Final Four, where they lost to eventual national champion Arkansas.

1996 - An easy win over Valparaiso was followed by a convincing victory over Iowa, which then set the third-seeded Wildcats against the second-seeded Kansas Jayhawks. The Arizona was up 80-76 late, but Kansas scored the last seven points of the game and won 83-80. Miles Simon and Michael Dickerson each scored 21 for the Cats, while Paul Pierce's 20 led the Jayawks.

1997 - A four seed, the Wildcats skirted by South Alabama and College of Charleston in the first weekend, which set up a rematch with top-seeded Kansas. Just like the previous year, Arizona coughed up a late lead, and just like the game was decided by three points. But unlike the previous year, it was the Wildcats who prevailed this time around. Freshman Mike Bibby led Arizona with 21, Dickerson chipped in 20 and Simon scored 17. Pierce scored 27 points in a losing effort for Kansas. From there Arizona went on to beat Providence, North Carolina and Kentucky to win the national championship.

1998 - The defending champion Wildcats were a number one seed out west, and they crushed both Nicholls State and Illinois State to reach the round of 16. A balanced scoring effort led by Bibby's 26 propelled Arizona to an 87-79 win and the team seemed to be rolling, but ran into a hot Andre Miller-led Utah team in the Elite 8 and were crushed by a score of 76-51.

2001 - An up-and-down season left the Wildcats a two seed heading into the dance, and easy wins over Eastern Illinois and Butler got the Cats to the tournament's second weekend. Loren Woods' 16 points paced Arizona in a 66-56 win over Mississippi, which was followed by victories over Illinois and Michigan State. Arizona reached the national championship game, but fell to Duke 82-72.

2002 - Close wins over UC Santa Barbara and Wyoming set three seed Arizona up with two seed Oklahoma, but the Sooners got 26 from Hollis Price and 21 from Aaron McGhee and outscored the Cats 55-30 in the second half for an 88-67 win.

2003 - A one seed once again, Arizona cruised by Vermont in the first round and got past Gonzaga in OT in the second to reach the Sweet 16 and a date with Notre Dame. Five Cats scored in double figures, and an 88-71 win sent Arizona to the Elite 8, where another postseason matchup with Kansas awaited. A back-and-forth game ended when Jason Gardner, who led the Cats with 23, could not make a three pointer at the buzzer, as the Jayhawks escaped with a 78-75 victory.

2005 - Three seed Arizona knocked off Utah State in the first round and UAB in the second, but had a real tough time with Oklahoma State in the Sweet 16. An off-balance jumper by Salim Stoudamire with 2.8 seconds left gave the Wildcats a 79-78 win. Stoudamire, who scored 19 points on the night, had 10 of them over the game's final 4:35. The win meant a matchup with top-seed Illinois and, well, Wildcats fans would rather not remember that game.

2009 - An Arizona team that some argued should not have even been in the tournament entered as a 12 seed, and summarily dumped Utah in the first round before knocking off Cleveland State in the second. However, top-seeded Louisville awaited in the Sweet 16, where Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and co. were crushed 103-64.

2011 - A five seed, Sean Miller's first foray into the dance with Arizona was fairly stressful through the first weekend. Close wins over Memphis and Texas were fueled by the greatness of forward Derrick Williams, but a test against top seed Duke awaited in the Sweet 16. Well, not really. The Cats trailed by six at the half, but the second half was all Arizona. Williams finished with a game-high 32 points and 13 rebounds as the Wildcats cruised to an emphatic 93-77 win. A close loss to UConn in the Elite 8 ended Arizona's season.

2013 - Comfortable wins over Belmont and Harvard put Arizona in the Sweet 16 for the second time in Miller's tenure and third time in the last five seasons. Senior Mark Lyons led the way with 50 points in the first weekend, but a date with two seed Ohio State is up next.

About the Author

School: University of Arizona

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: Fall 2008, right before Cardinals Super Bowl run

Favorite sports memory: Being at Game 7 of the 2001 World Series with my dad

Favorite all-time athlete: Larry Centers

Favorite sports movies: The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, Jerry Maguire

Most crushing sports moment: Grew up in Arizona and went to UA from 2002-06. In short, there are too many to name just one.


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