After witnessing the massacre that was the Pac-12 Championship game live in person, I'm happy that Oregon fans had to watch their team get beat convincingly tonight by Arizona and I think it's important to point out that Arizona Basketball and Football combined to go 2-1 against Oregon this year. With that useless stat out of the way, and with this reminder to check out this hilarious and hideous link, let's get to the recap.
The starting lineup was a question mark all day long and Sean Miller switched it up yet again tonight, this time putting Elliott Pitts on the bench and starting Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson together for the first time all season. This starting line-up was the one that I believe most fans expected to see at the beginning of the season and I wouldn't be surprised to see Coach Miller stick with it for a few more games. It's clearly our most talented and most athletic five and although York and Pitts are supposed to be our long-range threats, perhaps the trio of T.J., Brandon Ashley and Stanley Johnson just might hit enough three's to keep defenses honest.
Judging by the 12-2 Arizona went on to start the game, I would say the starting lineup looked pretty solid tonight but because this is Arizona Basketball, the Cats wouldn't make things easy on themselves. A run in the middle of first half brought the Ducks right back into the game and cut the lead to just five heading into the locker rooms. Arizona was able to weather the storm and using a great first half from Zeus and then a fantastic and wonderfully aggressive second half from McConnell, the Cats were able to pull away and leave Eugene with an 80-62 victory.
McConnell was undoubtedly the star of the show as he put his offensive skill set on full display tonight hitting an array of shots from all over the floor. He knocked down his only three, hit a bunch of mid-range jumpers and got to the basket seemingly at will in what was by far his most aggressive offensive performance of the season. And he also crossed up some poor Oregon schmuck like his basketball doppelganger is Jason 'White Chocolate' Williams instead of Aaron 'Even My Parents Hate Me' Craft. The crossover doubled as the highlight of the night but if Stanley Johnson had finished his soaring one handed dunk after getting hit on the head we would have had our best highlight of the season thus far.
As per usual, Arizona's defense was the key to this game as they did a great job containing the Pac-12's leading scorer Joseph Young and Oregon's star freshman Dillon Brooks. Young finished with 12 points and shot an ugly 4-15 while Brooks didn't fair any better finishing 2-9 from the field. You could see the frustration building all game as Oregon's stars could not get easy looks and when they did get open, they simply weren't knocking down shots. They also both complained... a lot. The complaining finally led to a technical foul that also seemed to be the death blow for Oregon. After the technical Arizona completely controlled the tempo and went on to win by a comfortable margin.
All in all a good win, and Arizona's first ever win at Matthew Knight Arena. Up next, the Cats travel to Corvallis to take on Oregon State at 8 PM MST on Sunday, January 11th.