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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcats get berth in NCAA tourney; will open against Miners in McKale

     March 9, 1987 — Los Angeles — There was some doubt in the minds of the members of the University of Arizona basketball team about whether they would receive one of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament bids announced yesterday. 

    “”It’s a long shot we will make the NCAA,”” said reserve forward-guard Jud Buechler after Friday night’s lost to Oregon, 72-63.

    That long shot came through, though, and the Wildcats will stay in Tucson this weekend to meet the University of Texas-El Paso in a first-round contest.

    “”I didn’t know what would happen if we lost in the first round,”” head coach Lute Olson said in a phone interview from Tucson yesterday. “”I’m happy to be in.””

    The Wildcats, the 10th seed in the Western region, will play in McKale Center on Friday night against the seventh-seeded Miners.

    “”I felt fairly confident that if we were in, we would go in Tucson,”” Olson said. Since the team is fairly young, the players “”seem to respond better when they have the security blanket of a home crowd,”” he added.

    A victory over UTEP, a former Arizona rival from the Western Athletic Conference, could lead to a rematch with Iowa, who play Santa Clara the same night. The Wildcats lost to the Hawkeyes 89-80 in a close contest in Tucson on Feb. 7.

    The other two games in the region have No. 3-seeded Pittsburgh against No. 14-seeded Marist (N.Y.) and No. 6-seeded Oklahoma matched up with Tulsa.

    “”Most of the (pairings) went as I figured,”” Olson said.

    There were some who didn’t feel the UA deserved a invitation. When told that the Wildcats were going to play in the NCAA tournament, ULCA forward Reggie Miller said, “”Are they? No way.””

    The Wildcats’ last contest against the Miners was in the 1983-84 season when UTEP came out on top 51-49 in overtime. The Miners were 24-6 this season and were the regular-season WAC champions. But they were beaten by Wyoming, a team that eventually went on to win the conference title over New Mexico.

    The Miners traditionally are a solid team that relies on a slow-temp game. Olson said they have good, quick athletes.

    It is reported that UTEP is unhappy having to play against the Wildcats, a lower-seeded team, on the UA’s home court.

    ULCA, the team that captured the Pacific 10 Conference tournament yesterday by beating Washington 76-64, was awarded the No. 4-seed in the West and will play Central Michigan in Salt Lake City. 

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