Since the Utah basketball team began playing conference tournament games in 1984, the Utes have been involved in some amazing games, from a 36-point blowout on an opponent's home court to a couple of last-second victories that seemed almost impossible to fathom at the time. Here is a look at 10 memorable games from Utah's conference tournament history, including two each from the 1997 and 2009 tournaments in Las Vegas.
March 10, 1995, Albuquerque
Utah 86, New Mexico 50
After barely getting by San Diego State the night before in the first round of the WAC tournament, the Utes faced a New Mexico team on its home court in front of a raucous crowd at The Pit.
It looked like trouble for a young Ute team, but they had none and actually toyed with the Lobos, handing them their worst-ever loss at The Pit with a 36-point victory. It was also Utah's largest margin of victory ever in a postseason game. Brandon Jessie led the Utes with 28 points, while sophomore leading scorer Keith Van Horn scored 15 and freshman Michael Doleac had 10. The Utes won the WAC title the next night with a 13-point win over Hawaii.
March 5, 1998, Las Vegas
UNLV 54, Utah 51
OK, this wasn't a Ute win, but it may have been the best outcome for a Ute team that went on to win five NCAA games before losing in the NCAA finals to Kentucky.
The Utes had beaten the Rebels twice by double-digit margins earlier in the season, but came out flat in the quarterfinal matchup against the hometown Rebels. They only sank 4 of 20 3-point shots and despite being the No. 1 rebounding team in the nation, were outboarded 37-25.
Utah led by 10 in the first half and led by three with just under four minutes left. However, they couldn't score the rest of the game as Andre Miller missed three shots in the final minute.
With no games to play Friday and Saturday, the Utes went home and rested and were ready for their long NCAA run starting the following week.
March 14, 2009, Las Vegas
Utah 52, San Diego State 50
After tying for the regular-season championship, the Utes won the "outright" championship by edging the Aztecs in the conference finals at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Utes led most of the game and were up by seven in the final minute, only to see SDSU's Richie Williams make three baskets, including a pair of 3-pointers in less than 30 seconds. The second one brought the Aztecs within one at 51-50 with 7.6 seconds left. After Lawrence Borha sank one of two free throws with five seconds left, Williams had once more chance as he drove the ball upcourt. However, just inside the 3-point line, Utah's Shaun Green stripped the ball from him and held on as the buzzer sounded.
March 5, 1999, Las Vegas
Utah 64, Tulsa 61 (OT)
The Utes entered the WAC semifinal game riding a 20-game winning streak, but nearly found themselves leaving Las Vegas early.
Playing Bill Self's Hurricane team, the Utes had to scratch for 45 minutes to keep their long streak alive and move into the tourney finals, which they won over New Mexico. The Utes blew a six-point lead in regulation and were tied up by Tulsa at 55 with three seconds left.
In the overtime, the Utes fell behind early, but Hanno Mottola made a couple of key baskets and Tony Harvey and Alex Jensen scored inside off assists by Andre Miller. Tulsa had a chance to tie the score with two seconds left, but the ball bounced off the rim and Utah escaped.
March 12, 2009, Las Vegas
Utah 61, TCU 58
The Utes were expected to breeze in this first-round game after tying for the Mountain West Conference championship and going against 14-16 TCU.
But the Horned Frogs gave the Utes all they could handle. After leading by three at halftime, the Utes fell behind on a jumper by Zvonko Buljan with 45 seconds left. The Utes tied it on Luke Nevill's free throws and after a TCU miss with 21 seconds left, the Utes set up for the final shot. Luka Drca drove the middle and dished the ball off to Borha, who sank the game-winning 3-pointer from the right corner with 0.8 seconds left, leaving TCU with not enough time to get a shot off.
March 13, 2004, Denver
Utah 73, UNLV 70
Nick Jacobsen sank a fallaway 3-point basket with 1.8 seconds left to give the Utes the Mountain West Conference title with a 73-70 victory over UNLV at the Pepsi Center.
The Utes had fought back from a 41-33 halftime deficit to take a seven-point lead, only to have the Rebels tie it on a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left. Utah point guard Tim Drisdom worked the clock under 10 seconds then found Jacobsen coming off a pick on the left side. When he got the ball, Jacobsen let fly with a jumper that hit nothing but net. When the Rebels missed a desperation three, the Utes celebrated an improbable championship under interim coach Kerry Rupp, who had taken over for Rick Majerus in January.
March 8, 1990, El Paso, Texas
Utah 62, BYU 61, OT
Under interim coach Joe Cravens, the Utes finished seventh in the WAC and had to play co-conference champion and No. 2 seed BYU in the first round of the WAC Tournament. The Utes fell behind early and trailed by nine midway through the second half, only to force overtime on Walter Watts' rebound basket with two seconds left.
Then in overtime they trailed by five with 24 seconds left and BYU at the foul line. But the Cougars' Scott Moon missed and Mark Rydalch buried a 3-pointer. Next Marty Haws missed the front end of a one-and-one and this time Tommy Connor sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key with seven seconds left to give the Utes an unlikely victory.
March 7, 1997, Las Vegas
Utah 72, New Mexico 70
The day after Keith Van Horn beat SMU with a last-second tip-in, he beat the Lobos with another buzzer-beater, this one on a fallaway 8-foot jumper in the lane.
Van Horn was actually having an off-night against the No. 14-ranked Lobos in the WAC semifinal game and finished just 4 of 14 from the field. Andre Miller and Michael Doleac were the big scorers with 21 and 15 points, respectively.
The Utes were holding for one shot when Miller tried a runner with five seconds left. Van Horn corralled the rebound and got the game-winner up as time expired. That's when Ute coach Rick Majerus did his famous one-inch leap off the ground in celebration.
March 4, 1985, Salt Lake City
Utah 61, Wyoming 60
Fans were filing out of the Huntsman Center when after a missed Utah shot, the ball went out of bounds with one second left. Wyoming had the ball with a one-point lead. So there was no way the Cowboys could lose the game. Right? But they did and Ute fans who left, missed one of the most amazing finishes in Ute history.
After a timeout, a Wyoming player threw a long inbounds pass that went over the head of his teammate and out of bounds. Because the ball didn't touch anyone, Utah got the ball back on their side of the court. Then Utah's Gale Gondrezick inbounded the ball to Manny Hendrix, who quickly turned and sank a 23-footer from the right corner that hit nothing but net as the buzzer sounded, giving the Utes a miracle 61-60 victory.
Wyoming coach Jim Brandenburg put it best when he said afterwards, "We snatched defeat from the jaws of victory."
March 6, 1997, Las Vegas
Utah 59, SMU 58
Utah fans will never forget Keith Van Horn's tip-shot off an Andre Miller pass at the buzzer to give the Utes a most improbable win.
Even though the conference champion and No. 3-ranked Utes had beaten the Mustangs by 17 and 21 points during the regular season, they came out flat in the first round of the WAC Tournament and found themselves trailing the entire game at the Thomas & Mack Center.
After trailing by 15 points with 12 minutes left, the Utes turned up the defensive pressure and didn't allow SMU to score in the final eight minutes. After a missed shot, the Utes got the ball under their own basket with just 0.3 seconds left, which meant under NCAA rules, they didn't have time for a shot, only a tip. Miller inbounded the ball, throwing a soft lob just beyond the rim. Van Horn reached back with an extended right arm, snagged the ball and in one motion, flicked it into the basket, giving the Utes an astounding victory.