All good things come to an end. And on Thursday night, the Arizona Wildcats' 49-game home win streak, the longest in the nation, did just that. The Oregon Ducks marched into McKale Center and stole one from the Wildcats, 83-75.
The Arizona diehards were stunned as they filed out of McKale Center, witnessing the team's first home loss in nearly three years. For those watching at home, after those first nine minutes of the game, nobody can blame the crowd for being stunned. Arizona raced out to a phenomenal start, leading 26-13, knocking down 11 of their first 12 shots from the field. It looked like the makings of a rout.
After a quick Oregon timeout, the Ducks fought back, answering with several three pointers. Arizona's shots continued to fall, but the Wildcats were suddenly very sloppy with the ball, turning the ball over seven times in the final 10 minutes of the half, 10 turnovers in the first half overall. Arizona shot 73% in the first half, but momentum had shifted and they only led by a score of 42-41 at the break.
The opening minutes of the second half showed just how much the tide had turned. Oregon continued to capitalize on Arizona's mistakes, turning three straight turnovers into eight points to take a 52-46 lead. Arizona hung with the Ducks, tying the game at 64 after a Parker Jackson-Cartwright three pointer.
Oregon responded to that with eight straight points and never looked back.
The game turned into the Dillon Brooks show as the Oregon forward got everything he wanted offensively. When the clock hit zeroes, the Wildcats committed far too many mistakes and the Ducks weathered every storm Arizona brought at them as Oregon walked away with a stunning victory.
Ryan Anderson was the team's MVP offensively, despite five turnovers. He finished with 22 points and nine boards on 8-of-9 from the floor. Kadeem Allen set a career high with 10 assists, also chipping in nine points. He also, however, finished with five turnovers. Oregon's Dillon Brooks finished with 24 points to lead all scorers, 15 of those in the second half.
Some thoughts on the game...
- If you had told me that Arizona would shoot 61% from the floor, I would have guessed that Arizona won by at least 20. Throw in 18 assists for the game and it sounds like a lock. But, alas, that's why they play the game. While 18 assists is a great performance, 19 turnovers is, quite frankly, unacceptable. You cannot expect to win a basketball game with a -13 turnover margin. We can talk about the fantastic play of Dillon Brooks. We can talk about the fact that Oregon took Arizona's best shot in the first half and just kept coming. But the reason Arizona lost is simple: 13 more turnovers and 21 less shots taken than Oregon.
- I have to preface this with a rather obvious statement: Sean Miller is a fantastic basketball coach. Now that that's out of the way, Coach Miller and his staff were outcoached Thursday. Dana Altman brought the weave offense, a look that Arizona was not even close to being ready for. Oregon's offense led to attacking the basket and getting a ton of room to shoot threes for the majority of the game. Sean Miller is one of the best in the game at making adjustments. But it was Altman that adjusted his squad and turned the game on its head.
- More than anything else to be said tonight: On a personal note, I'd like to thank Sean Miller and every single player and coach that was associated with the 49-game home winning streak. It was a pleasure to watch as a basketball fan. Tonight was a rather tough way to end it for the Wildcats but it was a joy to watch over the last three years.
Arizona has dropped two straight and fallen to 4-4 in a conference that can literally be called the Wild, Wild West. The Wildcats have the opportunity to get back on track against the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday.