The nemesis has been vanquished.
Arizona ended a 7-game skid to Oregon, beating the Ducks 84-81 on Saturday night at McKale Center.
Kerr Kriisa’s 25-foot 3-pointer with 1:26 left broke a 76-all tie, which was the last of 16 lead changes in a game that saw the third-ranked Wildcats (24-2, 14-1 Pac-12) trail by as many as 12 in the first half.
Bennedict Mathurin led the UA with 24 points, his fourth straight 20-point game, and added 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Five Wildcats scored in double figures including Dalen Terry, who had 13 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists.
Arizona was down 47-45 at the half despite shooting an absurd 70.8 percent, the first time its trailed at McKale after 20 minutes in more than a year. It trailed by seven before ripping off a 13-0 run to lead 60-54 with 14:45 left.
The turnover and defensive rebounding issues that gave Oregon 21 of its first-half points returned after that, with the Ducks (17-10, 10-6) going up 63-62 with 10:42 remaining. Quincy Guerrier, who came in shooting 29.7 percent from 3, hit his 5th triple to put the Ducks ahead 66-64 with 10:09 to go.
Guerrier finished with 21 points and was 6 of 11 from 3, including three triples in the first 3:59 of the game.
Arizona retook the lead at 71-70 on a Christian Koloko dunk with 7:56 left, and Mathurin made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 72-70 with 6:05 left, but the Wildcats went nearly five minutes without a field goal as Oregon went up 76-72 with 3:22 remaining on a jumper by N’Faly Dante, who finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds including 6 of the Ducks’ 11 offensive boards but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 39.9 seconds left after Oregon had started 10 of 10 from the line.
A Mathurin jumper and an Azuolas Tubelis layup tied it at 76 with 2:23 remaining, then Dante lost the handle underneath the Oregon basket. Arizona turned that miscue into the game-winning points on Kriisa’s 3, then it made 5 of 8 free throws in the final 42 seconds.
Terry’s foul shot with 10.9 seconds left made it a 3-point game, and Oregon’s Will Richardson—who had a team-high 22—never got a shot off as he dribbled at the top of the key and tried to drive into the lane on Koloko.
The teams combined for 29 points before the first media timeout, with the Wildcats starting 7 of 7 from the field and Oregon making 4 of its first 5 3s. It was reminiscent of the beginning of the UCLA game in Los Angeles last month, and like that one, the UA eventually cooled off and found itself in a big hole.
Turnovers and second chance points were Arizona’s biggest issue in falling behind 32-20 with 6:59 left, with Oregon going on a 9-0 run.
Following what Tommy Lloyd calls a “tough timeout,” Arizona ran off 10 in a row and eventually tied the game at 37 on a Terry alley-oop from Mathurin.
But Arizona only had one point over the next three minutes, falling behind 45-38, before getting within two at the break.
Arizona hits the road for its final trip of the regular season, beginning Thursday at Utah and continuing on to Colorado and USC.