As this 2020-21 version of the UCLA Bruins continues its unprecedented run to the Final Four for the first time since 2008 when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love rocked out at Westwood, let’s revisit the program’s (32-1) 1994-95 season which culminated with a National Championship.
Who can forget Tyus Edney racing down the floor in the round of 32 of the 1995 NCAA Tournament with 4.8 seconds left and hit the buzzer-beating runner to knock off Missouri, (75-74) without that shot you couldn’t tell the story of the 1995 UCLA Bruins.
That game propelled the Bruins to run the table from that point on as they would eventually cut the nets down and secure the program’s 11th national title — the most of any program in college basketball. Wooden, the legendary “Wizard Of Westwood” won 10 of them from 1964-75, including an unprecedented and never to be duplicated seven in a row from 1967-73.
The close shave was the wake-up call the Bruins needed, as head coach Jim Harrick guided them to their first national title in the post-John Wooden era.
In the 1995 Final Four run to glory, the Bruins defeated Eddie Sutton, Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, and the Oklahoma St. Cowboys (#12 In The Country) by 13 points in a game that was never really in doubt.
In the title game, they handled Nolan Richardson and his “40 Minutes of Hell” Arkansas Razorbacks squad who were the defending champions (89-78), beating the Razorback at their own run-and-gun style. Following a 20-year drought, the Bruins once again hoisted the trophy, and that would be the last time they won March Madness.
That 1995 team featured six players who were drafted by the NBA, including two first-rounders in Ed O’ Bannon and George Zidek. The aforementioned Edney was a second-round selection that season.
The program saw a resurgence in the mid-2000’s with three straight Final Four appearances from (2006-08). They came close to winning the program’s 12th title but fell in the 2006 title game to upstart Billy Donovan and his Florida Gators.
This 2020-21 version isn’t as good as any of those aforementioned teams from 1964-75 or 2006-08, in fact some may even say this is the least talented of any teams they’ve ever had make the Final Four. But don’t tell them that as they’ve been overlooked all season.