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Arizona Looking To Start A New Home Court Winning Streak
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/27/1999
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With Christmas having been spoiled due to a stunning defeat, fifth-ranked Arizona hopes to make it a Happy New Year.

The Wildcats square off against North Carolina-Wilmington on Tuesday in the first round of the 15th annual Fiesta Bowl Classic, an event in which the host Wildcats have never lost a game.

The Wildcats (9-2) were defeated by New Mexico last Tuesday when Roland Hannah hit a follow shot with 1.4 seconds left and Jason Gardner missed a desperation try as the buzzer sounded, giving the Lobos a 70-68 victory.

Arizona's only other loss was to then-No. 6 Connecticut at the Great Eight on Dec. 8, and New Mexico had entered the game with just a 5-5 record.

The loss ended a 37-game home winning streak for the Wildcats, who were last beaten at the McKale Center by UCLA, 66-64, on Feb. 13, 1997. It had been the nation's fourth-longest home winning streak.

Speaking of streaks, Arizona is a perfect 28-0 in this event, winning all 14 previous Fiesta Bowl Classics. The winner of this contest takes on either Delaware or Alabama in the championship game on Thursday.

In the loss to the Lobos, the Wildcats wasted a seven-point lead with 6:21 to play and shot a season-worst 36.4 percent from the field.

Despite that setback, Arizona remained in the top five for the fifth straight week. The Wildcats have not dropped consecutive non-conference games since losing at UNLV and Duke during the 1989-90 season.

They need the starting forward tandem of Richard Jefferson and Michael Wright to bounce back. Jefferson scored 17 points but shot just 3-for-9 from the field and committed four turnovers before fouling out. Wright grabbed 10 rebounds but shot 1-for-5 and was held to two points.

That sophomore duo normally combines to average better than 27 points while hitting 58 percent (110-190) from the floor.

This game marks the second straight against a ranked opponent for NC-Wilmington, which was routed by then-No. 8 Florida on Thursday, 80-53. The Seahawks (6-2) are playing their fourth consecutive road game since beating another Pac-10 Conference foe, having knocked off Washington at home on Dec. 2, 68-50.

Freshman guard Brett Blizzard is their leading scorer at 14.9 points per game and is deadly from 3-point range, hitting 54 percent (27-of-50) from beyond the arc.

This is the first meeting between these teams.

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