Arizona Wildcats best-play hoops countdown: Smith’s buzzer-beater at ASU in 1984 vs. Jefferson’s game-winning tap-in vs. Washington in 1999

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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 28 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):

For mobile devices, PLEASE CLICK HERE to access poll.


Why vote for Eddie Smith’s shot vs. ASU in 1984: Smith gave Arizona a 65-64 monumental win at ASU with a swooping bank shot as time expired. The Wildcats were 5-15 overall in Lute Olson’s first season. Before that season, ASU won nine consecutive games against Arizona and 23 of the previous 30. The victory sparked a five-game winning streak for the Wildcats, who beat Oregon State, a conference power at the time, on the road during that stretch. Arizona won six of its last eight games to finish 11-17 and serve notice that the Wildcats were an emerging presence in the Pac-10.

Why vote for Richard Jefferson’s tap-in vs. Washington in 1999: Olson counted on his two seniors — Terry or A.J. Bramlett — to take the winning shot against Washington 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 Lorenzo Charles’ last-second slam follow after Dereck 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 the victory.

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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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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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