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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Cats complete weekend sweep

    Arizona 87, Oregon 77

    EUGENE, Ore. – Forget about being a second-half team. The Arizona men’s basketball team is a second-half-of-the-season squad.

    Despite Oregon’s refusal to give in down the stretch, the Wildcats (16-5, 6-5 Pacific 10 Conference) beat the Ducks (6-17, 0-11) 87-77 on Saturday before a crowd of 8,012 in McArthur Court. It completed a road sweep of the Oregon schools for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

    The Wildcats have now won a season-high five straight games, and the Ducks remain winless in Pac-10 play in 2009.

    “”It’s always fun to win,”” said UA forward Chase Budinger, who finished with a game-high 25 points to go with nine rebounds. “”This is a big winning streak for us and it’s something that we needed to do, and we need to continue. We’ve just got to keep this rolling.””

    With this weekend’s sweep and at least eight games left in the season, the Wildcats are on the NCAA Tournament bubble, but that doesn’t mean Arizona is satisfied.

    “”If 16 wins got you in, I’d be excited about that, but it doesn’t,”” said UA interim head coach Russ Pennell. “”I really can’t even worry about that, because we’ve got 16 wins and I say, ‘Well how’d we get here?’ We got here with hard work.””

    The Ducks trailed the Wildcats by as many as 19 points, but it was a tight contest early on.

    With seven minutes left in the first half, UA guard Nic Wise jumped for a layup on a fast break but was stuffed by 5-foot-6 guard Tajuan Porter. It was Porter’s second block of the season and seventh of his career.

    Oregon head coach Ernie Kent said it reminded him of the time former Duck and current NBA player Aaron Brooks blocked a 7-footer’s dunk.

    “”I was amazed when Brooks did it, but he’s a pretty good athlete,”” Kent said. “”He’s 6-1 and plays 6-5. TP’s 5-6 and plays 5-6.””

    The Wildcats went into halftime leading 37-36. The score was tied eight times and there were 10 lead changes in the opening 20 minutes.

    The Wildcats turned the ball over eight times in the first half but didn’t have a single miscue in the second, allowing them to leave the Ducks far behind.

    “”That was big,”” Pennell said of the lack of second-half turnovers. “”That’s been a strong correlation with our team. When we’ve not turned the ball over, we’ve been able to play extremely well.””

    Porter kept the Ducks within two points three minutes into the second half, but then the Wildcats exploded.

    Arizona went up 50-43 – its biggest lead at that point – with a Wise floater at the 15:31 mark. Less than a minute later, a put-back dunk by Jamelle Horne launched the Wildcats to a 54-45 lead, completing a 9-2 run, which was followed by an 11-2 run, making the score 65-47 with 10:50 remaining.

    At the highest point of Arizona’s momentum in the second half, the Wildcats scored on 13 straight possessions.

    “”It’s been our motto all year: Second half is to push the tempo, be more aggressive on D, and on offense, be more efficient,”” Wise said.

    A pair of monster dunks by Jordan Hill gave the forward four of his 24 points, and put Arizona up 75-57 with 6:12 to go. The game was seemingly over, despite Porter’s attempt to bring the Ducks back late in the stretch.

    Porter scored a team-high 21 points and made five of11 shots from beyond the arc.

    “”He’s hard to guard because you want to get out on him to guard his three’s, but then he’s so quick, he’ll get around you,”” Pennell said of Porter. “”I thought, for the most part, we did a pretty good job on him. … We made him work, and that’s all you can do with a guy like him, because he’s an incredible shooter.””

    Arizona did well from the 3-point line, too, going 11-for-20 as a whole. Budinger drained four of six treys, and Wise made three, helping to bring his scoring total to 17.

    “”We shot incredible from the 3-point line,”” Budinger said. “”Any time we do that we’re going to be a tough team to beat.””

    In order for Arizona to have a chance at getting into the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season, it must remain tough.

    “”Getting this sweep is big-time for us,”” Wise said. “”… This is a big confidence booster for our team.””

    And 1

    Hill scored 15 of his 24 points in the second half, including the 1,000th point of his career. …

    Oregon’s 11 straight losses equal its same worst stretch in 1993. …

    The Ducks haven’t lost more than 11 consecutive games since dropping 13 straight during the 1956-57 season, when Steve Belko’s first UO team went 4-21, including a 2-14 record in the Pacific Coast Conference. …

    Porter is now three points from becoming the 16th Duck to reach 1,300 in a career.

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