Not only were the two teams regular season co-champs, but they only played once this season.
Oregon won that game 85-58.
So now the Wildcats have a shot at redemption, something they’ve wanted this entire time.
“That’s all I’ve been looking forward to,” Chance Comanche said on Friday night. “I knew tonight was going to be a tough game, but we knew what we had to get done to go to the real challenge, which is tomorrow against Oregon. I think everybody just locked in, focused, and we were all ready for it.”
“Of course we want to play against them after what happened last time,” said Lauri Markkanen. “So we want to get our revenge, and it was the same thing with UCLA. We’re excited about every game but especially those two teams. They beat us at home so it was a big deal playing against them and same thing with Oregon.”
“We tied first place, so we think we’re number one, but unfortunately they beat us,” Rawle Alkins chimed in. “We’re going to have another bounceback game kind of like we did tonight, and we’re going to show them who the number one team is in the Pac-12.”
“I’m ready to play ‘em,” Kadeem Allen continued. “Everyone in here knows what happened when we went to Oregon, but we’re just looking forward to tomorrow and may the best team win.”
“It’s great to have the opportunity to play them, and it’s a great challenge for us going into the NCAA Tournament,” added Allonzo Trier. “That’s a team that’s really good that has a chance to make a really big run. The fact we have to play them is another test and hopefully we can go out there and answer that bell.”
“It’s huge,” Parker Jackson-Cartwright tacked on about the opportunity to play the Ducks again. “We have to give them a lot of credit for up in Eugene. They executed and they made good shots, and they made a bunch of ‘em. And when you make a bunch of shots like that, and the other team doesn’t execute as well, it’s hard to win.”
The Arizona team watched the waning seconds of the Oregon/Cal semifinal game from the tunnel, getting that first glimpse of who they will face on Saturday.
“Honestly, we wanted Oregon to win because we want that payback for what they did to us,” Comanche added. “If Cal had won, we would’ve been ready for them but when we found out Oregon won, that gave us all the more drive to get through UCLA so we can get to them tomorrow.”
“We’ve both improved,” Jackson-Cartwright explained about this particular meeting. “I think we can really challenge them and push the pace, push the tempo, get stops, and get out in transition.”
So how will Arizona go about trying to make Saturday’s contest have a different ending than the first time around?
“Just guard and make them miss shots,” Trier explained. “They didn’t really miss very many shots, so it’s kind of tough to really take anything away from that game because it was almost to the point where it was unrealistic how many shots they made, but credit to them, they went out there and did it. We gotta do a better job of making ‘em miss.”
“It’s a big game,” Dusan Ristic stated. “Oregon is a great team. Last game when we played them we didn’t really play well, so now we have an opportunity to prove that we are a better team than them.”
“We will all be ready,” the center continued. “We have a little less than 24 hours to get prepared for the game, and we are all excited for that game.”
Arizona and Oregon are scheduled to tip-off at 8 PM PT on Saturday evening. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.