Wyoming’s Un-Sweet 16: No. 2 Danny Ainge vs. No. 15 Antonio Davis
LARAMIE -- There's a few things that can land you on a list like this one.
Beating Wyoming with regularity certainly makes you a thorn in the side. Making stupid decisions will also draw the ire of fans. Being an all-round jerk will do it, too.
This is our version of the Un-Sweet 16, pitting the biggest villains in Wyoming Cowboys basketball history against one another and eventually crowning the worst of the worst. This won't be our opinion, it's yours. You can vote for who will advance to the next round by clicking on the box at the bottom of this page.
We did our best to round up the ultimate enemy of the Cowboy State. We reached out to people in the know, from different decades of UW basketball. Don't be surprised to see plenty of rivals on this list.
Here's today's matchup:
No. 2 Danny Ainge vs. No. 15 Antonio Davis
I asked Wyoming legend Bill Garnett if Danny Ainge was a "crybaby."
"I call him a great competitor," he said of the former BYU star.
What about some of those memorable games against Ainge and the Cougars?
"We kicked their ass," Garnett said. "The WAC back then had three Top-20 teams. We feared nobody. Charles (Bradley) was a tremendous leader and (Jim Brandenburg) always has us prepared. Ainge was one of several tough competitors back then, but honestly, we were loaded with talent in '81. We felt like nobody was going to beat us at War Memorial Fieldhouse.
"That’s as nice as I can be about BYU."
Garnett, who was selected No. 4 overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1982 NBA Draft, faced Ainge six times during his time in Laramie. In each season -- 1978-1981 -- the two rivals split the season series.
One that stands out most is the final meeting.
Wyoming slid past No. 15 BYU 86-84 in double overtime in front of a raucous crowd inside the old Fieldhouse. Legend has it Ainge tried to undercut a leaping Mike Jackson, who instead used the senior's back as a springboard for the game-tying dunk. Ainge missed a wide-open shot at the end of regulation.
The debris hit the floor, BYU's WAC title hopes were dashed and Frank Arnold opened his mouth, labeling Cowboys fans "despicable," an unofficial title that was worn as a badge of honor in those days.
Wyoming would claim a conference crown with wins over Utah, Air Force and UNLV to close out the season. The Pokes knocked off Howard in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Illinois, 67-65, two days later.
Let's face it, Ainge was good. Really good.
Most players and coaches on this list will be. His coast-to-coast drive and jump shot to beat Notre Dame and advance to the Elite Eight is still played every March. Four times he was named an All-WAC Selection. In '81, he was named the league's Player of the Year and earned the title of All-American after averaging 24.4 points per game.
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Antonio Davis was an intimidating figure. Standing an imposing 6-foot-9 and weighing in at 215 pounds, he was one of the top big men in the country.
He didn't just look the part, either. The UTEP forward averaged more than 14 points per game as a junior. He once again hit double figures during his final season in El Paso. He eventually became a second-round selection of the Indiana Pacers in the 1990 NBA Draft.
Before he hit the pros though, he tried to hit Jon Sommers. In the 1988 meeting in Laramie, the two big boys were ejected for fighting in what would be a disaster of a game. Fifty, yes, 50, fouls were called in this one as Wyoming eventually pulled away for the 73-59 victory.
Reggie Slater faced off with Davis five times during his first two seasons on the high plains. The former Wyoming great joked that he still has nightmares about those games. It's easy to see why -- the Pokes only topped the Miners twice during those tilts.
"I honestly never viewed Antonio Davis as a villain," Slater said. "He was an incredibly gifted athlete that knew how to attack once he smelled blood. The body language of Davis was intimidating after big dunks. I don't recall him talking very much, but the sneer, the grimace, the scowl that he had on his face, combined with his swag after big plays, spoke volumes."
Yesterday's Un-Sweet 16 Matchup: No. 1 Reid Family vs. No. 16 Paco Larsen