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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Auburn outrebounds UA to win tournament game

    MARCH 24, 1986 – LONG BEACH, Calif. – “”If you’re going to play with fire, sooner or later you are going to get burned.””

    University of Arizona coach Lute Olson has used that adage throughout the season to describe the Wildcats’ rebounding problems. The heat finally hit Arizona in the first round of the National Collegiate Athletics Association basketball tournament when a physical Auburn University out-muscled the Wildcats under the basket to win 63-73 in the Long Beach Arena.

    “”If you play with fire by being out-rebounded against a good team you get burned,”” Olson said.

    The Tigers did most of the rebounding damage in the second half, pulling down eight of their own missed shots and 13 of Arizona’s. In the end, the Tigers had pulled down 37 missed and the Wildcats managed only 23.

    The loss finished Arizona’s first conference championship season with a 23-9 overall record and a 14-4 Pacific 10 Conference record.

    Auburn took its first lead in the second half and with 13 minutes remaining the Tigers took control.

    After that, the Wildcats could only come as close as one point 30 seconds later.

    The Tigers stretched their lead to as many as 12 with only 30 seconds left on the clock. A 16-foot jumper from freshman Sean Elliot cut Auburn’s lead to its final margin of 10.

    Elliott shared high-scoring honors with Auburn’s Chuck Person, both scoring 20 points.

    The Tigers upped their record to 20-10 and finished their season with a 22-11 record, losing to Louisville in the Western Regional finals Saturday.

    The Wildcats controlled the opening minutes of the game building an early six-point lead on a layup by senior center John Edgar. Arizona extended its lead to six points four more times, but could never go ahead by more.

    With seven minutes remaining in the first half, guard Craig McMillan hit a short jumper to put the Wildcats ahead 24-18. But the Tigers cut the lead. Two free throws from point-guard Gerald White tied the score at 28-28.

    The score was tied twice after that but a short inside shot by Edgar gave the Wildcats a 34-32 halftime lead. Edgar had the chance to put the Wildcats up by three, but missed a bonus free throw.

    Edgar scored 15 points for the Wildcats in his final collegiate appearance before a predominantly Arizona crowd. Official ticket sales for the subregional game were 11,690.

    “”They got a couple more offensive rebounds that put them back in it and that was the turning point,”” Edgar said.

    Arizona’s shooting dropped below 50 percent in the second half with the Wildcats hitting only 13 or 28 shots.

    “”We just didn’t have the intensity,”” Olson said about the second-half effort.

    “”We did a good job for a long time then we had five or six possessions that just killed us. We got impatient, we had some turnovers and they had second shots,”” Olson said.

    “”The size and the weight of the Tigers was too much for the Wildcats down the stretch,”” Olson said.

    The weight of the Tigers’ front line of 6-8 Person, 6-7 Chris Morrison and 6-7 Jeff Moore averages 219 point. Only 245-pound UA freshman center Bruce Wheatley weighs more than Auburn’s front-line average.

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