Perhaps it was the wakeup call Arizona needed. Ever since the home series against the mountain schools, and more notably the Utah game, the Wildcats have been playing the elite level basketball you would expect from a team that was among the short list of preseason national title contenders. After opening the first half of the season with redundant subpar play, none moreso than two head-scratching losses to the likes of UNLV and Oregon State, the Utah game appears to have given Arizona a necessary jolt.
That looked like the case again on Wednesday night as the Wildcats played host to Oregon for the final meeting of the regular season and put together a clinic on both ends of the floor, running away from the Ducks to the tune of a 90-56 rout. After trading buckets to open the game, the Wildcats went on a 16-5 run midway through the first half to open a double digit lead. After a Kaleb Tarczewski tip-in made it 38-27 with just over a minute left in the half, the Ducks never got it back to single figures as Arizona blew it open in the second half.
Despite the tremendous play of Stanley Johnson in recent weeks, last night was a story of "death by paper cut". Slowly and surely the Wildcats got contributions from nearly everybody as six players finished in double figures with Dusan Ristic finishing with nine himself. Despite a 15 point halftime lead and the game trending Arizona's way headed to the second half, Sean Miller knew Arizona could be better.
"When we take care of the ball and move the ball, a lot of good things can happen" Miller said in his postgame presser and the Wildcats proved that to be true with 48 second half points and only one turnover. T.J. McConnell finished with 10 points and five assists while Gabe York led Arizona with 16 points to match a game high by either team.
Defensively, Arizona was sharp holding the Ducks, the conference's highest scoring team to 40.7% shooting and a season-low 56 points including a stretch to end the game where Oregon hit one field goal in the last approximately 13 minutes. Joseph Young, the Ducks go-to player all season, was held to 12 points while Elgin Cook led the way with 16 points and four rebounds. With a revenge game on tap Arizona made sure to not look ahead and handle its business as it stretched its home court winning streak to 33 straight.
Now eyes turn to Friday night with the Beavers at home hoping to complete the home sweep and for Arizona a chance to keep its position atop the PAC-12 at the midpoint of conference play.