So long, ugliest court in college basketball. You won’t be where Arizona starts its first losing streak in three years.
The Wildcats once again showed their uncanny ability to play their best immediately after a loss, winning 87-78 at Oregon on Saturday afternoon. It was their first victory at Matthew Knight Arena since 2015, snapping a six-game skid there, and also ended their 3-game road losing streak.
Ninth-ranked Arizona (15-5, 6-3 Pac-12) improved to 14-0 in games following an in-season loss, with this only the second that wasn’t decided by double figures and only because Oregon (14-6, 6-3) hit a garbage 3-pointer with 10 seconds left.
The Ducks were 7 of 18 from 3 but only made 4 of 14 to start, one of those from beyond halfcourt to end the first half, and shot 44.8 percent overall including 39.4 percent in the second half. It was a stark contrast to Thursday’s 83-80 loss at Oregon State when the Beavers made 12 of 20 3s including a buzzer beater to win it.
The UA was 10 of 19 from 3, with five of those coming from Caleb Love, who had a career-high 36 points on 12-of-18 shooting. It was the most points by a Wildcat in a true road game since Ivan Radenovic had 37 at Stanford in 2007, the most at Oregon since Salim Stoudamire had 37 in 2004.
Kylan Boswell added 14 points, his most since Jan. 4 and matching his scoring from the previous four games, while Keshad Johnson had 12 and Oumar Ballo went for 10 with nine rebounds.
Arizona led 45-38 at the half, but it was up 14 with 1:09 left before the break after Love threw down a one-handed dunk in transition. He immediately ran toward the Oregon student section, with which he’d been trash talking all game, and got hit with a technical foul.
The Ducks made both free throws, got a Dante dunk and then, after Arizona missed two layups in the final 10 seconds, Jermaine Cousinard drained a 70-footer at the buzzer. Cousinard led Oregon with 20 points but it came on 6-of-19 shooting, while N’Faly Dante had 19.
Yet the Wildcats managed to get it back to a double-digit lead early in the second half and maintained that until Oregon scored five in a row to get within 54-46 with 15:57 left. Love responded with his fourth triple, and his fifth got him to 30 and put Arizona ahead 63-48 with 12:13 remaining.
The lead grew to 16 after a Johnson 3, but Oregon used the foul line to get back within 10 with 8:29 to go. Then Love hit two free throws and a floater to tie his career high.
The dagger came a few minutes later when Boswell scored five in a row, a backdoor layup on a feed from Johnson and then a pullup 3 from the top of the key to put the Wildcats up 75-59 with 6:05 left.
The UA made six of its first eight shots, building a 17-5 lead less than four minutes in, but that was followed by three empty possession which allowed Oregon to get within five. The Wildcats managed to keep a 2- or 3-score advantage the next 11 minutes despite Ballo and Motiejus Krivas combining for five first-half fouls.
The Wildcats started to get some separation late in the half thanks to Love, who hit his third 3 and later added a reverse layup in transition to make it 41-29 with 2:50 remaining.
Arizona’s defense forced 12 turnovers in the first half, leading to 14 points, but the Ducks still shot 52 percent in the opening 20 minutes.
The UA returns home for the next two games, hosting Cal on Thursday and Stanford on Saturday. The Wildcats are 10-0 at McKale Center this season, the same record Oregon had at home entering the day.