1995 College Basketball Recap
UCLA, a school long synonymous with the final four made a return to the nation's elite. Twenty years and five coaches (Gene Bartow, Gary Cunnigham, Larry Brown, Larry Farmer, Walt Hazzard) came and went after the John Wooden Era before they would add to their long list of national championships. Finally Jim Harrick, who was by many accounts near to joining his predeccesors in the annals of UCLA basketball as post-Wooden failures, put together a team in 1994-95 that had the stuff to make a run in the tournament.
To be sure, the top-seeded Bruins, led by senior forward Ed O'Bannon and senior point guard Tyus Edney, seemed to get some divine intervention. In their second round game against No. 8 Missouri, with 4.8 seconds left Edney was forced to dribble the ball the length of the floor and convert on an off-balance lay-up for the Bruins to survive, 75-74.
In the Final Four championship game, against the defending champion Arkansas Razorbacks, Edney, who had sprained his wrist in the Bruins' semifinal win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys and their center Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, was forced to the bench after testing the wrist early in the game. With Edney sidelined, replacement Cameron Dollar stepped up and played solid defense and let O'Bannon and freshman two-guard Toby Bailey do the rest. O'Bannon scored 30 points and pulled down 17 rebounds, earning Most Outstanding Player honors. Bailey had 26 points and nine boards as the Bruins beat the Razorbacks, 89-78.
In other college basketball news, Texas Christian forward Kurt Thomas became the first player since Loyola Marymount's Hank Gathers to lead the nation in scoring and rebounding in the same season. O'Bannon split the numerous Player of the Year awards with Maryland's sophomore forward Joe Smith and Michigan State point guard Shawn Respert. Mount Saint Mary's head coach Jim Phelan, after 40 years and 720 career wins at the same school, made his Division I tournament debut and the Mountaineers enjoyed themselves during their short stay in the spotlight before they were dispatched 113-67 by No. 1-seed Kentucky in the first round.