Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats hoops countdown: McMillan is McClutch in memorable 1986 shot against Oregon State




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This year’s countdown to tipoff includes an overall look at the best play in Arizona Wildcats history, which will be determined as the days leading up to tipoff. Today marks 51 days until Arizona starts its 2014-15 season against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 14 at McKale Center. Along with the mentioning of the top plays, the countdown will once again display the top players who wore the number that corresponds with the day.

Here’s the next top play (they will be listed randomly during the countdown until a determination is made in a bracket):


Craig McMillan won his first junior college state title last year in his 14th season at Santa Rosa

Craig McMillan won his first junior college state title last year in his 14th season at Santa Rosa

Call it what you want — McClutch, McShot, McMiracle — the 1986 spectacular finish by Arizona against Oregon State and A.C. Green was so breathtaking it’s hard to put into words.

In his sophomore season, Craig McMillan made a last-second basket that beat the Beavers 63-62 in overtime on Jan. 23, 1986. With three seconds left, Steve Kerr threw a length-of-the-court pass on an out-of-bounds play that was deflected to McMillan and he swooped to the hoop to make the winning layup.

Many fans in McKale stormed the court in celebration, in what was one of the rare times Arizona fans have reacted that way.

“Some people were talking to me the other day about that play,” McMillan said during the 25th anniversary of Arizona’s 1987-88 Final Four team two years ago at McKale Center. “I didn’t do that much. The ball landed right in my lap.


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— Arizona 6-10 center Bob Elliott’s 35-foot jumper at the buzzer beats Kansas State in 1973.
Sean Elliott downs Duke with three-pointer over Danny Ferry in last minute in 1989
Miles Simon’s 65-foot bank shot as time expired to beat Cincinnati in Phoenix in 1996
Tom Tolbert’s no-look, twisting shot against North Carolina in the 1988 Elite Eight.


“Some 25-30 years later, people are still talking about that play. It was a great play, a great pass, a great win. What I did on that play wasn’t too difficult. Anybody in this (press conference) room could have made that play.”

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McMillan, in his 15th season as head coach at Santa Rosa (Calif.) College, must not be aware of many of us reporters lacking athleticism and the wherewithal to make much such a play.

Oregon State, playing under legendary coach Ralph Miller, blew a five-point lead with 1:10 remaining in regulation. McMillan, who had 16 points, sent the game into overtime at 55-55 on a 20-foot jumper with 12 seconds left.

The outcome marked the shift in power in the Pac-10 from Oregon State under Miller to Lute Olson (in his third season) and the Wildcats.

McMillan coached Santa Rosa to its first Califonia state community college championship last season.

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[/ezcol_1half_end] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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