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Final Pac-12 visit to Oregon puts Arizona men’s basketball’s streakless streak on line

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-oregon-ducks-preview-losing-streak-road-games-pac12-2024 Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK

Arizona has never lost consecutive games under third-year coach Tommy Lloyd. It also has not won at Oregon since 2015.

One of those things will happen on Saturday when the ninth-ranked Wildcats (14-5, 5-3 Pac-12) visit the Ducks (14-5, 6-2).

The last time the UA dropped consecutive games was in February 2021, when it followed a 2-point home loss to Oregon with a loss at UCLA. Since Lloyd took over a few months later the losses have been few and (mostly) far between, with every in-season setback followed by a solid victory.

The average margin in Arizona’s post-loss games the last three seasons is 17.2 points, including wins this year by 13, 15, 19 and 47.

So what, Lloyd said after Thursday’s 83-80 loss at Oregon.

“This game has no impact on the next game,” Lloyd said. “I’m not ascribing to any of those theories. If our guys want to win now because they lost today, they’re in the wrong program. You wear an Arizona jersey you want to win every day. You want to win every day and it’s your responsibility to bring it every day.”

Oregon has won the last six matchups with Arizona at Matthew Knight Arena, four by double digits and two by more than 25. Last year the Wildcats lost 87-68 in Eugene, the largest margin of deficit under Lloyd.

“It’s going to be a really hard game, Oregon is playing well,” Lloyd said.

The Ducks beat ASU 80-61 on Thursday behind 19 from Jermaine Cousinard and 16 from N’Faly Dante, the latter one of several players who missed time due to injury earlier this season. The Ducks also have an impressive freshman in guard Jackson Shelstad, a 39 percent 3-point shooter who is averaging 12.8 points per game.

Oregon also has a pair of big men who aren’t afraid to shoot from the perimeter, which has been Arizona’s kryptonite in Pac-12 play. 7-footer Nathan Bittle, who just came back from a 2-month absence, made 1 of 2 3-point attempts against ASU and 6-9 Kwame Evans Jr. was 2 of 4.

Players 6-9 or taller in Pac-12 play are shooting 43.2 percent on 3s against the UA, with the duo of Tyler Bilodeau and Michael Rataj combining for make 5 of 7 mostly wide-open triples on Thursday.

“Our bigs gotta step up on some of these bigs,” Lloyd said. “Our bigs are literally acting like they’ve never seen another big make a 3. We probably got to scout it better and we got to respect people a little bit more, but that’s on the coaching staff and on our bigs, so we got to do better there. It’s a recurring theme against us.”

OSU was 12 of 20 from 3, raising opponents’ 3-point percentage against Arizona to 34.6 percent, which ranks 234th out of 362 Division I schools. In Pac-12 games it’s 38.1 percent, third-worst in the league, and Oregon (41.8 percent) is second-best.