Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats best-play countdown: Wright hits game-winner to topple No. 1 Stanford in another epic finish at Maples




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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 36 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. The following is the next top play (they will be listed randomly during the countdown until a determination is made in a bracket):

Michael Wright is one of four Arizona players to make a game-winning shot in the waning seconds at Stanford

Michael Wright is one of four Arizona players to make a game-winning shot in the waning seconds at Stanford

Many Stanford-Arizona finishes at Maples Pavilion are epic, especially the 35-foot shot at the buzzer for Stanford’s Nick Robinson 11 seasons ago.

While Robinson’s shot might get most of the national attention, it must hold up to four Arizona game-winning shots there.

Already listed in this countdown series are buzzer-beating plays by Sean Rooks, Khalid Reeves and MoMo Jones — all players from New York City. Another big-city performer — Michael Wright from Chicago — also put on a show at The Farm.

On March 8, 2001, Wright’s layup with three seconds left gave No. 8 Arizona a 76-75 victory over top-ranked Stanford at Maples. Stanford led for much of the second half, but Gilbert Arenas’ steal and layup with 3:06 left gave Arizona a two-point lead.

Stanford retook the lead on four points by Jason Collins, but he was called for an offensive foul with 42 seconds left. Jason Gardner hit one free throw to pull Arizona within 75-74.

Casey Jacobsen missed a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left, allowing Arizona to set up one last play. Wright got the ball in the middle of the key, maneuvered between two defenders and put the ball in.

“The last play worked exactly as we had planned,” Wright was quoted as saying by the Arizona Daily Wildcat. “Gilbert set a great screen, and I posted up. Loren (Woods) made a perfect pass, and I muscled it in.”

With three seconds on the clock, Jarron Collins threw a length-of-the-court pass that was intercepted by Arenas. The Wildcats stormed the court in celebration.

Wright and Richard Jefferson had 14 points apiece for Arizona, which won its fifth straight game. Woods had 10 points and eight rebounds while playing solid defense against Stanford’s Collins twins.

“That was a great college basketball game, not only from the standpoint of how hard both teams played, but how into the game the fans were,” Arizona coach Lute Olson said. ”We ere very fortunate to win, and if Stanford would have won, they would have been the fortunate ones.”

Arizona has a 2-0 record against No. 1 teams on the road, both against Stanford. The Wildcats beat the top-ranked Cardinal 68-65 at Maples in the previous season, withstanding a late Stanford rally with only seven scholarship players after Jefferson broke his right foot.


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

Eddie Smith’s game-winning three-point play with two seconds left caps a furious last-minute rally at ASU in 1985.
Eddie Smith’s bank shot at the buzzer beats ASU 65-64 in Tempe in 1984 and sets Lute Olson’s dominant program in motion.
Salim Stoudamire’s jumper with six-tenths of a second left beats ASU in Tempe in 2005.
Nick Johnson gives Arizona fans Christmas Day gift with game-saving blocked shot against San Diego State in 2012.
MoMo Jones’ 16-foot bank shot at the buzzer in 2010 adds to New York flavor of Arizona winning shots at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion.
Chris Mills’ buzzer-beating jumper in regulation gives Arizona life in its 105-94 overtime victory over UCLA in 1991.
Kenny Lofton’s behind-the-back, double-pump dunk caps rout of Oregon in 1988, ranks as one of college hoops’ best dunks of that season.
Salim Stoudamire’s game-winning long-distance three-pointer downs UCLA in 2005.
Derrick Williams’ emphatic blocked shot against Washington in 2011 saves game for Arizona.
Khalid Reeves’ coast-to-coast game-winner with less the five seconds left beats Stanford at Maples Pavilion in 1992.
Steve Kerr’s first shot after father’s assassination in 1984, a 25-foot jumper against ASU, gives him hero status in Tucson and contributes to Arizona’s emergence in the Pac-10.
Sean Rook’s last-second bank shot at Stanford in 1991 gives the Wildcats a 78-76 victory.
Salim Stoudamire’s game-winning jumper against Oklahoma State in the 2005 Sweet 16.
Sean Elliott’s free throw breaks Lew Alcindor’s conference scoring record in 1989.
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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[/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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