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Defense optional as Oregon State hands Arizona second straight loss

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NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Oregon State Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats didn’t die of dysentery, but their voyage to the Oregon Trail was just about as disastrous.

Three days after collapsing late in regulation before ultimately losing in overtime at Oregon, the Wildcats fell 82-65 at Oregon State on Sunday night. It was the worst loss for UA against the Beavers since 1989 and marked the first time Arizona has been swept on the Oregon trip since 2006.

Oregon State (12-4, 2-2) outscored the Wildcats 33-16 over the final 12:05, turning a 49-all tie game into a blowout thanks to 65 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes. That included a 14-for-15 stretch at one point.

The Beavers shot 54 percent overall, the best field goal rate against Arizona this season, and won their 23rd consecutive game when scoring at least 80.

“They really just outclassed us,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said on his postgame radio show. “We didn’t have the ability to guard their offense. ... We struggled across the board.”

Arizona (11-5, 1-2) shot 34.5 percent in the second half and 39.6 overall, missing 11 of 12 shots at one point and going almost seven and a half minutes without a basket as it struggled with OSU’s zone in the halfcourt. That icy stretch coincided with OSU’s hot shooting, turning what had been a 43-41 UA lead into a 68-54 edge for the Beavers.

Zeke Nnaji had 21 points and nine rebounds, making 8 of 14 shots, but he failed to score over the final 12:05 of the game. Nico Mannion had nine points and nine assists while Josh Green added nine points, with both Green and Mannion going 3 of 10 from the field.

Five Beavers scored in double figures led by senior Tres Tinkle, who had 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

Arizona trailed by as many as eight in the first half after going more than six minutes without a basket. But then it hit eight of its next 11 shots, with the ability to make stops on defense allowing the Wildcats to get out in transition and outrun the zone.

An 8-0 run that took all of 64 seconds featured a Mannion 3-pointer, an alley-oop from Mannion to Nnaji and a Max Hazzard transition 3) to put the Wildcats up 28-26 with 3:25 to go before halftime.

Nnaji’s 3-point play with 34.4 seconds left gave Arizona a 31-29 edge before OSU’s Zach Reichle hit a layup with seven seconds left in the first half to send the game into the locker room all tied up.

A strong start to the second half put Arizona up 41-37 as the Wildcats were able to score in transition. But Green’s layup with 16:35 to go was their last fast break score, and after that Arizona made only five field goals the rest of the way.

The game was tied at 49 with 12:05 left before OSU went on a 7-0 run and never led by fewer than five points after that.

Arizona returns to action Thursday at home against Utah. The Wildcats are 6-0 against the Utes at McKale Center since they joined the Pac-12 in 2011.