UA-USC have had some thrillers – just not manyby Steve Rivera on Feb. 23, 2011, under Sports
Only once has Arizona faced the Southern California Trojans when they were ranked. The Wildcats lost 85-70 in 2007 in Tucson.
All these years and only once has USC been ranked when playing Arizona. The Trojans won’t be ranked when the teams meet Thursday at the Galen Center.
But there have been some key games throughout the years. Here are my top three Arizona-USC games in the last four decades.
March 5, 1998 – USC 91, Arizona 90 OT
Arizona was attempting to make history in Los Angeles. All it had to do was get by USC, a team that was 3-13 in the conference. UA was 16-0 and trying to become the first Pac-10 team to go undefeated in the conference.
But … USC’s Adam Spanich hit a 3-pointer that somehow thudded its way into the basket for the improbable overtime win over No. 2 ranked Arizona.
It was a desperation three, and it looked like it had no chance, but it hit between the backboard and the rim and just went dead and dropped in. In regulation, it was Spanich’s other 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime.
“First of all, I think the team that played the hardest won the basketball game,” Arizona coach Lute Olson said. “USC deserves the credit. It just seemed like they were where the ball was. I’m not shocked. When we watched USC on tape, we had a hard time figuring out how they were 3-13 (in conference play). This is a team, I think, that can play with anybody.”
Jan. 22, 1979 – Arizona 74, USC 72
Four days after upsetting No. 3 UCLA in Tucson, a capacity crowd of 14,586 Arizona fans stormed the McKale Center court again after another upset of a Pac-10 foe. The Wildcats beat the Trojans thanks to Joe Nehls’ two free throws with 21 seconds left as part of a 31-point performance. Local sponsor Spaghetti Company issued coupons for a free meal if UA won, and Wildcat fans happily cashed in their tickets.
March 4, 2010 – Arizona 86, USC 84 in 2OT
Senior guard Nic Wise hit a lay-up with 1.5 seconds left to give Arizona a win and keep the team’s hopes of an NCAA tournament bid alive. It was a game that saw nine ties and eight lead changes. UA’s Kyle Fogg hit three free throws with 0.2 seconds left in regulation to send it into the first OT. USC overcame a six-point deficit to get it into the second OT. Five UA players scored in double figures, with Derrick Williams leading the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds. It was a sign of things to come.