Men's Basketball Pulls Stunning Upset of No. 2 Wildcats
March 5, 1998
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Adam Spanich experienced the thrill of not one, but two last-second shots Thursday night.
With them, lowly Southern California knocked mighty Arizona over the edge, something Arizona State and Oregon State barely missed doing recently.
Spanich's desperation 3-pointer as time ran out lifted the Trojans to a 91-90 overtime victory over the second-ranked Wildcats, snapping the Wildcats' 19-game winning streak.
Spanich's only other field goal, a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds left in the second half, forced overtime.
"If you had seen us practice the last three days, you'd think we were going to be in the Final Four," said Spanich, whose team had lost 19 of its previous 22 games. "We knew we could win, and we did it.
"I was off-balance, it was a tough shot, it went in for me," he said of the game-winner. "I tried to shoot it soft and it rolled in. It was pandemonium after that.
"It's the best, I don't know what else to say. It's the best feeling ever."
Jason Terry's short jumper with 6.9 seconds remaining gave the Wildcats a 90-88 lead. USC got the ball into the frontcourt before a pass was deflected out-of-bounds with 2.8 seconds left.
The Trojans inbounded to Spanich, who got his shot off from the left wing. It hit both the rim and backboard before falling through at the buzzer.
The loss prevented defending national champion Arizona (26-4, 16-1 Pac-10) from possibly becoming the first team to go unbeaten since the league expanded to 10 teams in 1978.
"First of all, I think the team that played the hardest won the basketball game," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "USC deserves the credit. It just seemed like they were where the ball was.
"I'm not shocked. When we watched USC on tape, we had a hard time figuring out how they were 3-13 (in conference play). This is a team, I think, that can play with anybody."
Arizona beat ASU and Oregon State by one point each during its winning streak.
"If you're living on the edge, you're going to fall off somewhere along the line," Olson said. "That's a concern that I expressed. We've got to turn it on at the tip. We got outhustled."
The Trojans (8-19, 4-13) snapped a seven-game losing streak. They had lost 11 of their previous 12 games.
"This is the game we've been waiting for," USC coach Henry Bibby said. "It makes our season, especially considering where they are in the Pac-10 and they were undefeated. I said all along, if we execute, we'd be OK."
Gary Johnson led the Trojans with 27 points before fouling out. Jarvis Turner, who also fouled out, equaled his career high with 19 points and had 11 rebounds for USC.
Michael Dickerson led Arizona with 26 points and Mike Bibby, the son of the USC coach, added 20 points for the Wildcats.
Terry, a reserve who scored 12 points, drove the middle and pulled up for his shot that temporarily gave the Wildcats the lead.
Spanich finished with eight points - his two big 3-pointers and a pair of foul shots with 18.2 seconds left in the second half that cut Arizona's lead to 78-75.
The Wildcats had two chances to extend their lead after Spanich's free throws, but Miles Simon and Dickerson both missed foul shots in 1-and-1 situations.
"We made a lot of mistakes in crunch time," Dickerson said. "We came out and played hard, they played harder. I had two critical free throws. If I would have knocked them down, we probably would have won the game."
After Dickerson's miss with 15.6 seconds left, the Trojans worked the ball around before Spanich made the game-tying shot. Simon's half-court desperation shot as time expired wasn't close, and the game went into overtime.
The Wildcats, who previously clinched their eighth Pac-10 title, equaled the previous school-record winning streak of 19 games by beating No. 11 Stanford 90-58 last Saturday.
It appeared several times they were on the verge of putting the Trojans away, but they couldn't do it. Neither team led by more than six points, and the biggest lead in the overtime period was two.
Arizona's A.J. Bramlett, who had all 13 of his points in the second half and a game-high 12 rebounds, gave Arizona a 63-61 lead and triggered a 13-7 run that made it 74-68 with a little under five minutes left.
USC wasn't closer than three points after that until Spanich's first big 3-point shot.
The Wildcats lost despite making 50.8 percent of their field goals (31 of 61) to 43.2 percent for USC (35 of 81). The Trojans were 12-for-24 from 3-point range, while Arizona was 7-for-20.
Simon, averaging 17.6 points and one of Arizona's heroes last year in its run to the NCAA championship, was held to only five.
USC Coach Henry Bibby- "I didn't even know it was a three (Adam's game-winner). It was like hitting the lotto! This is what we've been waiting for. This was a great basketball game. The guys gave it all they had.
(Is this the biggest upset of the college season?) "Absolutely. No doubt about it. They're the number two team in the country. I guarantee they will not lose another one the rest of the way. Arizona is like the teams I played on (at UCLA) in the 70s. One of the great teams to come along recently."
USC Forward Adam Spanich- "This is something I planned last night in my head. Whe I got the ball, he (Dickerson) didn't jump and so I shot the ball. I shot it soft. It was like, please go in. And it did! This makes the season, UCLA and Arizona."
Jarvis Turner sufferd a badly dislocated left ring finger in the first half. It was taped to his middle finger and then Turner re-entered the game. ... USC freshman Kevin Augustine was guarded often by Arizona's Miles Simon, a match-up of two players from the powerhouse Mater Dei H.S. program in Orange County.