Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats best-play countdown: Terry, Jefferson team for UA’s version of N.C. State’s miracle ending




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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 34 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):

Richard Jefferson was only a freshman when he tapped in a game-winning shot against Washington in 1999

Richard Jefferson was only a freshman when he tapped in a game-winning shot against Washington in 1999

It was like Arizona coaching legend Lute Olson diagrammed the last play against Washington in 1999 this way: “OK, Jason Terry, you are Dereck Whittenburg, and Richard Jefferson, you will be Lorenzo Charles. OK, take care of that miss alley-oop.”

Olson obviously had other plans, counting on his two seniors — Terry or A.J. Bramlett — to take the winning shot with the game tied at 86 at McKale Center. He called a 20-second timeout and diagrammed a play for either senior to take the last shot. Terry almost took that last attempt.

North Carolina State beat Houston to capture the 1982-83 NCAA title on Charles’ last-second slam follow after Whittenburg’s long-range attempt fell just short.

Terry’s off-balance three-point attempt dropped short of the rim into the hands of Jefferson, a freshman who timed his leap perfectly to tap the ball in with a tenth of a second left to give the eighth-ranked Wildcats to beat the Huskies.

“I just threw it up, hoping that it was going to either go in or someone would put it in,” Terry told the Associated Press. “If it was an assist, it had to be the greatest assist of my life.”

Jefferson still going strong


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

Loren Woods’ three blocked shots in succession — like rapid fire, one after the other within a five-second span — against Oregon in 2000.
Michael Wright’s shot in the lane with three seconds left topples No. 1 Stanford at Maples Pavilion in 2001.
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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Terry, who led Arizona with a career-high 30 points and nine assists, couldn’t get an open shot against Washington’s Donald Watts. His desperate 18-footer fell short of the rim but Jefferson was there to grab the ball and tap it in with two hands to give Arizona its 24th consecutive home victory.

“I didn’t have time to do much else but to turn around, grab the ball and shoot it,” Jefferson, who had 13 points, told the AP.

Bramlett had 16 points, while Michael Wright, another freshman forward, had 13.

Washington was ahead by as many as 14 points in the first half and neither team had more than a four-point lead in the second half.


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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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