It was good to get this one out of the system before the NCAAs but that's about the only good thing in Arizona's third loss of the year, falling at Oregon 64-57. The Wildcats couldn't get out of their own way on Saturday and eventually fell victim to a team who got hot from three.
Early on Arizona looked to be in good shape as the Wildcats locked up the Oregon offense and played from ahead nearly the whole first half. However, Oregon somehow stayed close to the Wildcats and a Jason Calliste three right before the half sent Arizona to the locker room with a two point lead that felt like it could have been 20.
In the second half Oregon made a little run to get the deficit to two but Arizona quickly responded with a 6-0 run keyed by turnovers and the fast break to push the lead to eight. Just when it appeared the Wildcats were going to put Oregon away the Ducks responded with a 6-0 run of their own on back to back threes and from there things spiraled out of control for Sean Miller's boys.
Calliste hit a jumper and drew a foul on Kaleb Tarczewski on the play giving Oregon a 53-51 lead around the five minute mark. Nick Johnson missed a couple jumpers and back to back threes by Calliste and Johnathan Loyd opened things up and all but iced the game for the Ducks. T.J McConnell hit a big three to pull the Wildcats within 59-54 but Ben Carter came through with a big offensive rebound and layup on the next trip to push the Ducks lead back to 7 and ending any rally the Wildcats hoped to pull out.
Arizona's biggest problem was simply self-inflicted wounds. 14 turnovers proved costly for Arizona including a sequence of remote slamming mistakes perhaps none as frustrating as Kaleb Tarczewski getting stripped after bringing the ball down to his waist multiple times. The three point shooting hurt Arizona as well only going 2-11 from deep and the lack of any bench production proved too much to overcome for Arizona.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Elliott Pitts combined for 4 points off the bench and added to Nick Johnson's struggles it was tough to find offense at times. Aaron Gordon led all scorers with 21 even going 7-12 from the line. Calliste and Loyd carried the Ducks on a day Mike Moser and Joe Young were off shooting wise. The biggest takeaway from the game obviously is Oregon's resume' getting this victory.
The Ducks by all accounts solidified themselves as a tournament team with the win while not a whole lot changed for a Wildcats team who clinched the PAC-12 title and #1 seed in the conference tournament last week. Arizona still is in good position to get a #1 seed out West in the NCAA tournament and now has time to regroup as it heads to Las Vegas for the conference tournament.
Arizona will be back in action on Thursday when it faces the winner of the Utah-Washington opening round game. The Wildcats were 3-0 against the two teams combined this season though the Wildcats most recent meeting with the Utes went into overtime.