Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats hoops countdown: Elliott’s free throw breaks Alcindor’s conference scoring record




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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 50 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):


He could have broken Lew Alcindor’s Pac-10 scoring record on a jump shot or dunk with that quick first step of his, but the way Sean Elliott placed his name atop the conference record books was appropriate.

It was just him, alone on the free-throw line standing in an imaginary spotlight. The 13,641 delirious fans at McKale Center and his coach Lute Olson and teammates watched with great anticipation.

UCLA, the school for which Alcinor excelled under John Wooden, was Arizona’s opponent.

They should name February 18 “Sean Elliott Day” in Tucson. That’s the date in 1989 when Elliott, a native Tucsonan who graduated from Cholla High School, achieved the greatest individual honor in Arizona athletics history.


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ARIZONA’S TOP PLAYS LISTED SO FAR (Click on link to access blogs that pertain to the following)

Craig McMillan’s McClutch shot at the buzzer from full-court pass from Steve Kerr against Oregon State in 1986.
— 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.


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He stepped to the free-throw line with 7:10 remaining after he was fouled by UCLA’s Trevor Wilson on a drive to the basket. Elliott and Alcindor (who finished his collegiate career in 1969) each had 2,325 points. As he calmly stepped to the line, the crowd became as silent as possible. He lined up his free throw and it was a swish through the hoop.

“It’s not every day you do something that’s never been done before,” Elliott told reporters after the game.

The crowd and his teammates on the bench went bonkers. There was still a buzz as he attempted his next free throw. He made that and a timeout was called. His teammates embraced him as he walked to the bench.

Elliott passed Alcindor in spectacular fashion, making 12 of 22 shots, including six of 12 three-pointers, and scoring 35 points to go along with a career-high 11 assists and seven rebounds.


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“Sean Elliott’s total game, I would guess, was the best of his career,” Olson told reporters.

Arizona, ranked No. 2 with the nation’s longest home winning streak of 32 games, beat the Bruins 102-64. It was UCLA’s worst loss in school history. Elliott finished his Arizona career later that season with 2,555 points.

After the game, as Elliott made his way off the court following a brief award presentation, the Arizona band serenaded him with the theme from “Superman”.

Elliott remains the most popular athlete to play at Arizona.

Elliott’s mother, Odiemae, who passed away earlier this year, was seen signing autographs after her son’s record-breaking game against UCLA. The Tucson Citizen ran five stories about Elliott the day of the game in a special section. The Arizona Daily Star advertised an eight-page section that was published the day after the historic game. 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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