Arizona Basketball’s comfy non-conference schedule has not stopped the Cats from playing some of college basketball’s big boys.
It’s been seven winning years since Coach Sean Miller has taken over the reigns of the Arizona Basketball program, but one criticism the Cats have had in that time is not scheduling too many big time non-conference games during the regular season.
Miller’s Cats don’t schedule non-conference games the way Lute Olson used to during his prime, but that hasn’t stopped Miller and the boys from being matched up against some pretty good basketball schools during the regular season the past few years.
Here are the top 5 regular season non-conference wins of the Sean Miller era.
No. 5 – 12/25/12
#3 Arizona 68
#17 San Diego State 67
With under ten seconds left, San Diego State’s Chase Tapley saw an opening the size of the Red Sea.
As he drove to the basket, it looked like he had an easy lay up.
The win would give the Cats the 2012 Diamond Head Classic Trophy.
No. 4 – 11/26/14
#4 Arizona 61
#15 San Diego State 59
These teams can’t get enough of each other. Since Miller’s arrival in 2009, the Cats are 4-2 against the Aztecs.
In this one, the Cats relied heavily on a freshman phenom named Stanley Johnson.
He knocked down some big free throws under the lights in the final minute and finished with 18 points and nine rebounds.
The win gave the Cats their 2nd Maui Invitational title in school history.
No. 3 – 12/6/14
#3 Arizona 66
#9 Gonzaga 63
This matchup of two top ten teams wasn’t particularly pretty, but it is still a McKale classic because of the late game dramatics.
Despite it’s shooting struggles down the stretch the Zags were able to push this one to overtime and had a chance to tie the game late in the extra period. That’s when McKale Center came alive.
Byron Wesley was fouled shooting a three-pointer in the final seconds. He went to the line needing all three to tie the game.
He air-balled the first and missed the other two, giving the Cats another big win early in the season.
Brandon Ashley led Arizona scorers with 14 points, including shooting 2 for 2 from downtown.
No. 2 – 12/15/12
#8 Arizona 65
#5 Florida 64
Before Billy Donovan took his talents to Oklahoma City, he won two National Titles in Gainesville. Having a National Championship winning coach coming to McKale Center is a big deal and both teams did not disappoint.
The Cats overcome a late six point deficit when Mark Lyons had the shot of the year.
Starting at the top of the key, Lyons went right and threw a contested lay up off the glass to give the Cats the lead and eventual victory.
At halftime, the McKale crowd gave Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona Football team a standing ovation. Earlier in the day the Cats won the New Mexico Bowl in similar dramatic fashion after overcoming a late deficit.
No. 1 – 11/29/13
#3 Arizona 72
#6 Duke 66
Arizona planted the West Coast Flag deep in the Madison Square Garden Floor in this one.
The Cats handed the Blue Devils their first in-season tournament loss in 26 games thanks to it’s steller defense against Jabari Parker.
They held the future No. 2 NBA Draft pick to 7 of 21 shooting from the field.
Arizona floor general T.J. McConnell finished the game with 10 points and eight assists.
The victory gave the Cats their fourth NIT Season Tip-Off Title. Tied with Duke with the most all-time. Bear Down Arizona!