Despite blowing a couple double-digit leads, the Arizona Wildcats held on to beat the Oregon Ducks 90-83 on Saturday in Tucson.
Both teams put on a show in what turned out to be a very exciting matchup.
And here are three up and three down from the Wildcats’ win.
Arizona may not have played well the whole game, but they put on a clinic in the first 10 to 15 minutes. The ‘Cats had two separate double digit leads very early, leading 21-9 and then 32-21 in the first half.
For a while, it seemed like UA was about to run away with the game thanks to tremendous shooting. However, they hit a dry spell at the end of the half while Oregon got hot, leading to a halftime point differential of only three.
Nevertheless, the beginning of this game proved how well this team can play when it’s clicking.
The entire team played well Saturday, but one of many pleasant surprises was the play of Parker Jackson-Cartwright.
While he was mostly quieted in the second half, he was key in Arizona’s hot start. He nailed a 3 a few minutes into the game, and assisted on another 3 the very next possession.
While he still made some mistakes and wasn’t a star, he finished with 10 points, six assists, and zero turnovers.
Basketball is certainly one of the most entertaining sports out there, and one of the best parts of the game is dunks.
Arizona proved how well they could slam in down on Saturday. Keanu Pinder and Deandre Ayton both had monster jams that electrified McKale Center.
Keanu Pinder just stole a man's soul! pic.twitter.com/1WgOLlXDMl— Christopher Boan (@cgboan) January 13, 2018
Deandre Ayton playing against humans isn't fair pic.twitter.com/d7WVoRDOaG— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) January 13, 2018
When Arizona’s playing well, it’s certainly one of the most exciting squads in the country.
Trouble feeding Ayton
While Ayton still went off and had a great game, with 24 points, it seemed like the rest of the team had trouble getting him the ball down low.
There are plenty of great players on this roster, and it’s understandable that Ayton can’t always get a touch. However, it was troubling that he never got the ball on possessions where he had position. When he was targeted, it was often with a lob pass that led to a few turnovers.
This isn’t a huge issue when Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins are also on the roster, but Ayton needs to get the ball with crisp passes as many times as possible each game.
Say what you will about Pac-12 refs, or about the calls at the end of the first half, but Oregon’s multiple comebacks were thanks to hot streaks by the Ducks and cold streaks from the Wildcats.
However, it was very obvious that this officiating crew was going to be strict from the start, and Arizona failed to adjust.
There are going to be bad calls in every game, and while Arizona was on the wrong end of many this game, Arizona wasn’t able to tone down the physicality and avoid ticky-tack fouls. Dusan Ristic and Ayton faced foul trouble for decent portions of the second half, and it took a strong performance by Keanu Pinder off the bench to avoid disaster.
Ultimately, you can’t blame either team for a tough officiating crew. However, even with the chippiness between the two schools, it was disconcerting to see Arizona continually fall prey to foul calls.
While the Wildcats were impressive on offense for a majority of the game, the frequency and severity of defensive lapses was perhaps the scariest part of the game for Arizona fans.
In the first half, it was allowing Oregon to penetrate, with the Ducks getting most of their points right at the rim. There was no help defense and the team wasn’t moving quick enough to stop it.
In the second half, the inside was defended better, but at the cost of Elijah Brown going off. There was a stretch when Arizona got fooled inside by using too much help defense, and Brown nailed 3 after 3. It didn’t cost Arizona the game, but it proved that this team is still relying on their offense, which is dangerous.
Overall, it was a good game and a better win for the Wildcats, who are now 14-4 and 4-1 in conference play.
With an easy stretch of the schedule over the next month, Arizona should be able to build on their good moments and fix their bad ones against Oregon.