With just over two minutes left on Thursday night, the Arizona Wildcats had turned the ball over just seven times while holding a six-point lead on the road against the preseason Pac-12 favorites.
They would give the ball away five more times the rest of the way, with three of those coming in overtime in what would end up being a 74-73 loss at No. 9 Oregon.
The final turnover came with 2.1 seconds left in overtime when Nico Mannion’s inbounds pass to Josh Green was intercepted by Oregon senior guard Payton Pritchard, whose fallaway jumper with 28 seconds left sent the game to overtime in the first place.
It was the fourth straight loss for the 24th-ranked Wildcats (11-4, 1-1 Pac-12) against the Ducks (13-3, 2-1) and fourth straight setback in Eugene. Arizona hasn’t won at Matthew Knight Arena since January 2015.
Will Richardson scored with 19 seconds left to put Oregon up for good after Green had given the Wildcats a 73-72 lead on a steal and layup with 26 seconds remaining.
Green finished with 17 points while Mannion had 20 but also a career-high six turnovers. Three of those came in the final 97 seconds of regulation or in OT.
The game needed extra time after Oregon scored the final six points of regulation, including a jumper by Pritchard with 26 seconds left to knot it at 66. Pritchard then blocked Zeke Nnaji’s potential game-winner on a long two-point attempt, with replays indicating he might have fouled Nnaji on the hand.
Arizona led 36-34 at halftime but was outscored 16-7 over the final 5:30 after the Wildcats had led by 11. They built that big lead by dominating inside, at one point holding a 14-0 edge in points in the paint as Oregon couldn’t make a basket inside the three-point arc.
The Ducks’ first two-pointer didn’t come until Richardson hit a layup with 8:53 left in the first half, but then Oregon began to focus on the interior to get back into it and ended up winning the paint scoring 36-30.
The Ducks took a quick lead in the second half only to see Arizona go on a 7-0 run to lead 43-38. Oregon scored the next eight to retake the lead, but back-to-back threes from Green and Stone Gettings gave the Wildcats a 52-48 edge with 10:55 to go.
Another 8-0 Oregon run put it up 60-57 before Arizona scored the next nine, a run that included Smith’s third 3-pointer of the second half. Smith finished with 11 points.
A jumper by Nnaji with 1:46 left would be Arizona’s last score in regulation, after which two Mannion turnovers enabled Oregon to force OT. The second was converted into Pritchard’s tying basket.
Nnaji had 11 points and 14 rebounds but was just 3 for 8 from the field as Arizona shot 45.2 percent overall.
Arizona returns to action Sunday night at Oregon State.