Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats Best Play Bracket: Elliott’s clutch three-pointer against Duke vs. Lofton’s highlight-reel dunk against Oregon

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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 in the days leading up to tipoff. Today marks 21 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 best play will be determined through a vote of readers in a bracket:

For mobile devices, PLEASE CLICK HERE to access poll.


Why you should vote for Sean Elliott’s clutch three-pointer against Duke in 1989: The national TV game against Duke and Mike Krzyzewski did not faze Elliott, a senior, as he dribbled the ball up the court with one minute remaining and the game tied at 70. The crowd of 18,196 at The Meadowlands in New Jersey stood in anticipation of what Elliott might do next isolated against fellow All-American Danny Ferry of Duke. Elliott, only 5 of 20 shots at that point, pulled up for a three-point shot on top of the key, surprising Ferry, whose reaction to extend high toward Elliott’s release was too late. Elliott shot the ball at his zenith. It swished in to put Arizona ahead 73-70 with 53 seconds remaining. His two foul shots, in a one-and-one situation with 18 seconds left, gave the Wildcats the points that would make the difference in the 77-75 victory.

Why you should vote for Kenny Lofton’s highlight-reel dunk against Oregon in 1988: Matt Muehlebach grabbed a long rebound off an Oregon miss and spotted Lofton breaking free up court. Lofton, who went on to become one of the best base-stealers in major league baseball, had the speed and athleticism to distance himself from most. With room to spare, the 5’10” guard from East Chicago, Ind., took off inside the lane, spun his body 180 degrees, pumped the ball between his legs in midair and emphatically slammed home a two-handed behind-the-back dunk. The crowd at McKale Center, a venue where a vast majority of the fans back then stuck around no matter the point differential, went nuts in the 89-57 win. It was Lofton’s only basket of the night but it’s memorable to this day mostly because of his diminutive size. ABC-TV later selected that dunk as one of the 10 best of the 1987-88 season.

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ARIZONA’S TOP PLAYS LISTED IN THIS COUNTDOWN (Click on link to access blogs that pertain to the following)

Derrick Williams’ no-look, three-point play beats Texas in 2011 NCAA tourney
— Determined Jason Terry upsets No. 3 Stanford with shot in the lane in waning seconds of 1999 thriller at McKale Center.
Mark Lyons’ driving, one-handed shot in the waning seconds against No. 5 Florida in 2012 gives Sean Miller a signature victory.
Nic Wise’s game-winning last-second shot in double-overtime against USC in 2010 puts satisfying cap to tumultuous career.
Richard Jefferson’s tap-in at the buzzer off Jason Terry’s missed three-pointer beats Washington in 1999.
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 Rooks’ 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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Click on bracket to access blog to vote:

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GAME ONE
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GAME TWO
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GAME THREE
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GAME FOUR
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GAME FIVE
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GAME SIX

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GAME SEVEN

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GAME EIGHT

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com 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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