Javier Morales took first place in the 2010 Arizona Press Club’s Metro Sports Reporting category
First Round Arizona Elite Eight Event Matchups:
>> Poll: 1987-1988 versus 2010-2011. Story: TucsonCitizen.com analysis
>> Poll: 1993-1994 versus 2004-2005. Story: TucsonCitizen.com analysis
>> Poll: 1996-1997 versus 2002-2003. Story: TucsonCitizen.com analysis
>> Poll: 1975-1976 versus 2000-2001. Story: TucsonCitizen.com analysis
EDITOR NOTE: The following is a fictional depiction of what could occur between the 1996-97 and 2000-01 teams.
We take you back to McKale Center …
Indicative of the 1996-97 team’s resiliency, it never gave up after falling behind by as many as 22 points. Mike Bibby, Miles Simon and Co. forced the 2000-01 team into an uncharacteristic 21 turnovers, including 12 during the game’s final 11 minutes. Conversely, the 1996-97 team committed just six turnovers the entire game and outscored the the 2000-01 team in points off turnovers by a 25-6 margin.
After a resounding dunk on a breakaway by Richard Jefferson gave the 2000-01 team its largest lead of 54-32 with 11:21 left in the game, the 2000-01 team committed turnovers on four straight possessions giving the 1996-97 team life and momentum. The 1996-97 team took advantage of the sloppy passes, slicing the 2000-01 lead to nine points — 54-45 — with 6:35 to play.
The 2000-01 team, behind two three-pointers from Gilbert Arenas, used an 8-3 spurt and took what looked like an insurmountable 14-point lead — 62-48 — with only 4:37 remaining.
That’s when Bibby started to take over, scoring 11 of the next 18 points for the 1996-97 team. The 2000-01 team would score just five points during the next four minutes. That stretch included four turnovers by the 2000-01 team, which also went 3-for-6 from the free throw line in that span. A Bibby three-pointer cut the lead to seven points with 1:46 left in regulation, followed by a Bennett Davison free throw and layup from Michael Dickerson that cut the 1996-97′s deficit to 64-60 with 59 seconds to play.