Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 | 12:03 a.m.
- Dec. 22 -- Beating Arizona, Part II
Stacey Augmon was right in Sean Elliott’s face. He couldn’t have gotten any closer to him. If Stacey had bad breath, Sean Elliott would have suffered.
Stacey was THAT close to Elliott.
That’s one of my favorite memories about our rivalry with Arizona, which is playing UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center at noon Saturday.
That was a real rivalry. It was so intense. It was one of hatred, and the hatred was on their part. I don’t think we hated them as much as they hated us.
I think we beat them five out of six times I was at UNLV.
It was big when we went down to Tucson. The only time they beat us in Tucson, we had a real young group. They were No. 1 in the country when they beat us, 86-75, in Tucson in December 1988.
They went nuts. They stormed the court. They had a redshirt center, Brian Williams, from Bishop Gorman High who had gone on to Los Angeles.
He comes in our locker room and yells, “We’re going to get you at the Mack, too!” He was going nuts.
The great thing is later that season we played them in the NCAA playoffs in Denver. It was a West Regional semifinal. We had beaten Idaho , 68-56, and DePaul, 85-70, to get there.
We weren’t a great team that year. Anderson Hunt, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony were sophomores.
Moses Scurry and David Butler were both juniors. It was their first seasons at UNLV. George Ackles had just come into the program.
We didn’t have a senior.
Arizona beat Clemson by 35 and won its next game by 30 or 35. They were really good.
I didn’t even think we had a shot at all. They were No. 1. Sean Elliott was really, really good.
My wife, Lois, didn’t even go to the game. There was a school board deal. Usually, she wouldn’t miss a game. But she didn’t want to go to lose to Arizona.
My close friend Freddie Glusman didn’t go, either. He didn’t think we’d win.
But Purdue coach Gene Keady came to watch us practice and he said, You’re going to beat Arizona because of your defense. I said, Gene, don’t say that. Don’t tell anyone that.
Then I read in a paper on the plane to Denver that my assistant coaches said, “We think we got a great shot.” Oh my God. Why would they talk like that?
Fans from Vegas started coming into Denver. After our practice we went out to eat and ran into Seton Hall coaches at the same place. We all sat together.
Seton Hall played Indiana. We played Arizona. I’m sitting there thinking, Seton Hall thinks they’ll beat Indiana? I said, God, these guys are nuts.
And Seton Hall did beat Indiana.
We led Arizona the whole game. We played so well. We were really physical. David Butler did a great job in the middle.
Stacey did a great job on Elliott for 35 minutes. We had pictures of Stacey right in Sean’s face. We put that on a brochure of how to play defense. Stacey couldn’t have gotten any closer to him.
Then Elliott got going. He hit a bunch of buckets. With less than a minute to go, they took the lead.
We came down and with four seconds left Anderson Hunt makes a 3-pointer. A guy who played baseball was guarding him. He was quicker than hell and tried taking a charge.
Anderson crossed him over with a dribble step, and there was no call. The other guy was acting. Anderson let it go and it goes in.
I was so happy. It was one of my favorite victories, because it was Arizona. We wanted to beat Arizona bad because of earlier in the year, the way they celebrated on that floor.
Our players went nuts in the locker room. We went back to the hotel and celebrated all night. A bunch of our boosters went to the airport the next day to see Arizona go home.
People were drinking and yelling, Arizona go home! Arizona go home!
I later went to an officials’ seminar in Chicago. I was sitting next to Bobby Knight and they showed this film. Two-thirds of it was our game with Arizona.
They were saying why “this” was a foul and “that” wasn’t a foul. Every time an Arizona guy cut across the lane, David Butler would belt him. Butler was so physical in that game.
Bobby Knight says, “God, Tark, you guys are physical! I had no idea you guys played like that!” That was a great game. We loved it.
That was maybe one of our greatest victories.