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Arizona drops seventh straight to Oregon in season finale

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

In a season in which its offense turned out much better than expected but its defense failed to ever coalesce, the latter got in one last bad performance.

Arizona allowed Oregon to shoot 54.5 percent from 3-point range and outrebound the Wildcats for the second time this season in an 80-69 loss in Eugene on Monday night.

It was the seventh consecutive loss against the Ducks for the UA, which because of a self-imposed postseason ban will end the 2020-21 season—barring an extra nonconference game added at some point—with a 17-9 overall record and an 11-9 mark in Pac-12 play.

The UA shot 45 percent for the game but only 39.3 percent in the second half when it was outscored 40-33, falling behind by as many as 13. The Wildcats only turned it over nine times but Oregon (17-5, 12-4) converted those miscues into 15 points while making 12 of 22 3s and pulling down 11 offensive boards while winning the rebounding battle 37-29.

James Akinjo led Arizona with 19 points and eight assists, while reigning 2-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week Azuolas Tubelis finished with 12 but was scoreless in the first half. Bennedict Mathurin was 2 of 8 from the field but had a team-high seven rebounds.

Arizona trailed 40-36 at the break and the deficit swelled to 11 on a Will Richardson 3 with 16:35 left. Tubelis finally got into the scoring column with an and-one to cap a 6-0 run and get Arizona with 51-46 with 14:48 remaining, but then Chris Duarte scored five in a row including a 3 that took at least four bounces before softly falling in.

Duarte, who hit the game-winning 3 to beat Arizona at McKale Center on Feb. 13, finished with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting.

The Wildcats had a chance to make it a one-score game, getting three offensive rebounds after a missed free throw by Tubelis. Instead, the empty possession was followed by six straight points from Eugene Omoruyi on a 3-pointer and a 3-point play to go back up 63-52 with 8:41 left. Omoruyi finished with 21 points.

Oregon started 5 of 6 from 3 and led 19-11 just six minutes into the game, but Arizona got back into it thanks to the Ducks suddenly going cold. A five-minute scoreless drought and 10 straight misses let the Wildcats tie it at 21 and lead by four after six straight points from Mathurin.

The UA was up 33-27 with 4:06 to go before becoming a complete mess on offense, taking only three shots in the last four minutes while turning it over three times as Oregon finished the first half on a 13-3 run.