Editor’s note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.
Today’s list: The top 10 baskets in UA hoops history:
Arizona’s unexpected rush to the 1997 NCAA basketball championship had almost all the variables from a Hollywood movie: a mammoth upset over No. 1 Kansas, harrowing escapes against South Alabama and College of Charleston, and a historic sweep over No. 1 seeds North Carolina and Kentucky at the Final Four.
The only thing lacking was a game-winning shot for the ages. No buzzer beater. No final-play theatrics.
Not that it matters a bit.
The 10 greatest shots in UA basketball history range from a 1950 game in Morgantown, West Virginia, to a 2011 NCAA tournament game in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
On Dec. 30, 1950, Arizona picked up its first win over a ranked opponent, No. 19 West Virginia. Two days earlier it stunned defending national champion City College of New York before a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden.
Tucson High grad Jack Howell drilled a 20-footer from the corner to give Arizona a 40-38 lead (it won 41-38) with nine seconds remaining. Howell’s shot might’ve endured forever as one of the 10 leading shots in UA history, but four CCNY players were later convicted of shaving points in the 1950-51 season, including the Arizona game.
Two nights later at West Virginia, Howell got a second chance. This time, his 20-footer gave Arizona a 68-67 win at the buzzer. West Virginia was called for goaltending on Howell’s shot. The Wildcats rose to 8-1 and climbed to No. 16 in The Associated Press poll.
That shot sticks. Here’s our list: