You knew it was a matter of time. Arizona playing from behind was going to catch up to them at some point and that’s what happened against Oregon, who gave the No. 4 Wildcats their first loss (70-66) Thursday.
Give all the credit to Oregon for their defense as their aggressive play led to 10 steals and it was fitting the game was sealed on one by Johnathan Loyd with 14 seconds left. Arizona appeared flustered for most of the game until they made their patented two minute rally.
Down by nine, the Wildcats went on a 8-2 run led by Nick Johnson and Mark Lyons, who hit one of the toughest 3-point shots you’ll see all year. But down three, Johnson turned the ball over to Loyd and the Ducks held on to celebrate.
Despite the late rally, the Ducks were in control for almost the whole game. They outscored Arizona 41-19 to finish the first half thanks to their defense and hot perimeter shooting. Oregon ended up finishing 7-11 on 3-pointers for the game, led by Dominic Artis going 3-for-4.
I had a feeling if the Wildcats fell behind early, they could be in trouble. A late rally is easy when the home crowd is behind you but on the road, it’s a lot trickier. They almost pulled it off but now they need to start working on playing better for a complete 40 minutes, starting with their perimeter defense.
As for Oregon, this was not just a great win for them but also the Pac-12. It showed how strong the conference is beyond Arizona and that the Ducks have some talented players in Artis and EJ Singler. They’re not a team with one true standout but they are indeed a team of guys who can collectively step up and make plays to overcome a pure go-to-guy.
There hasn’t been much to cheer about in Eugene on the hardwood lately but the Ducks just announced they’re going to contend for the Pac-12 title.