ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Arizona basketball in top 5 on AP anniversary poll for 1990s

Jan 11, 2024, 7:00 AM

Lute Olson...

Legendary UCLA head coach John Wooden has words with legendary coach Lute Olson of the Arizona Wildcats on December 5, 2004 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Mike Krzyzewski needed three seasons to rebuild Duke.

Once he got the Blue Devils rolling, they became almost unstoppable.

After coming up just short the three previous seasons, Duke won its first national championship in 1991, then did it again the following season. The ’91 team was led by Christian Laettner, but also had feisty sophomore Bobby Hurley and athletic freshman Grant Hill. The Blue Devils avenged a loss to UNLV in the Final Four and knocked off Kansas in the title game.

The following season, Laettner hit one of the greatest shots in NCAA Tournament history to beat Kentucky in the East Regional, then Duke blew out Michigan and the Fab Five in the title game.

Duke missed the 1995 NCAA Tournament after Krzyzewski took a leave of absence, but began a run of 24 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 1996 that included three more national titles under Coach K.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of its Top 25, The Associated Press compiled its weekly polls to crown an all-time No. 1, as well as determining the best programs of each decade. Points were awarded based on each individual ballot, just as they are in weekly rankings, and the Blue Devils edged Kansas to lead the 1990s with 3,261 points. Here are the other top schools:

Kansas (3,256 points)

Roy Williams took what Larry Brown started and kept it rolling through the 1990s. The Jayhawks started a record run of 28 straight NCAA Tournament appearances in 1990 and reached No. 1 in five straight seasons beginning in 1992.

Kentucky (3,256)

Rick Pitino led the Wildcats to the 1996 national championship, and Tubby Smith did the same two years later. Kentucky also reached the title game in 1997 and the Final Four in 1993.

North Carolina (3,206)

Dean Smith closed out his career with a national title and the Final Four three other times in the 1990s. The Tar Heels reached another Final Four under his successor, Bill Guthridge, and had a 172-week streak of being ranked starting in 1991.

Arizona (3,128)

The Wildcats have been one of the nation’s top programs for more than three decades, but it started with Lute Olson. The coach with the shock of white hair led Arizona to 14 straight NCAA tournaments, including the program’s only title in 1997.

Arizona Basketball

Arizona's Caleb Love celebrates a dunk...

Associated Press

Arizona clobbers Oregon in final home game of season

Arizona men's basketball was impressive offensively on Saturday, taking down the Oregon Ducks 103-83 in Tucson.

2 days ago

Caleb Love #2 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts after scoring a basket against the Florida Atlantic Ow...

Kellan Olson

Wildcats guard Caleb Love has supporters on Suns in Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant

Arizona Wildcats guard Caleb Love has a big brother in Suns guard Bradley Beal and a fan in Suns forward Kevin Durant.

3 days ago

KJ Lewis #5 of the Arizona Wildcats shoots against Shawn Phillips Jr. #9 and Kamari Lands #0 of the...

Kellan Olson

No. 6 Arizona manages Arizona State comeback attempt for rivalry win

No. 4 Arizona separated itself from rival Arizona State early and then stayed solid enough in the second half to pick up a victory.

4 days ago

Frankie Collins and Kylan Boswell...

Damon Allred

Arizona State brushes off early haymaker to show fight before Arizona pulls away

Arizona State men's basketball showed good fight in its rematch with No. 6 Arizona but fell 85-67 in Tempe on Wednesday.

5 days ago

Keshad Johnson of Arizona drives against Washington...

Arizona Sports

Arizona gets dinged in college basketball rankings, Arizona State earns votes

The Arizona Wildcats dipped two spots in The Associated Press college basketball rankings after splitting against the Washington schools.

7 days ago

Caleb Love...

Associated Press

Arizona basketball bounces back with win over Washington

Caleb Love scored 28 points as No. 4 Arizona bounced back from a loss Thursday with a win over Washington on Saturday.

9 days ago

Arizona basketball in top 5 on AP anniversary poll for 1990s