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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Oregon shoots past depth-challenged Arizona

    Oregon 84, No. 21 Arizona 74

    All season long the Arizona men’s basketball team has dug itself into big holes and climbed out of them, but players cautioned that as the games got tougher the team wouldn’t always be able to do that.

    Missing the instant offense of injured guard Jerryd Bayless (sprained knee), the No. 21 Wildcats could not recover from a 19-point first-half deficit Saturday against Oregon.

    Despite another valiant comeback that cut the lead to five, Arizona lost 84-74 in McKale Center, marking the first time the program has dropped consecutive home games to the Ducks.

    “”You can’t continually get down 20 and dig out of holes, you just can’t,”” said UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill. “”And it took a lot for us to get back to where we had a chance, and then we just couldn’t get key stops.

    “”We needed really one more stop and one more basket to make it a real game, but we didn’t come up with that. Unfortunately that’s why we lost the game.””

    The Wildcats’ defense struggled with the perimeter-oriented Ducks (10-4, 1-1 Pacific 10 Conference), who shot 55.9 percent from the floor, the best of any UA opponent this year, on their way to scoring the most points Arizona (10-4, 1-1) has given up.

    That includes a first half in which they scored 48 points, shot 60 percent from the floor and nailed seven of 12 3-pointers (58.3 percent), which likely reminded O’Neill of Arizona’s porous 9-for-13 first-half 3-point defense Nov. 17 against Virginia.

    O’Neill used all five of his timeouts by the 3:38 mark of the first half, frequently calling one when his team allowed an open 3-pointer.

    “”They made some transition 3s,”” O’Neill said. “”We didn’t get into their air space, we didn’t do what we were supposed to do. For the first time in quite time we were just really bad defensively, and they made some shots.””

    Added forward Chase Budinger: “”We didn’t come out ready to play. Our defensive presence was not there at all, and it really showed out there. They blew right by us on every drive, we gave them open 3-pointers, and they executed their offense and got easy looks.””

    Arizona’s lack of perimeter depth caused problems with Bayless still out with a sprained right knee. That led to Budinger and guard Nic Wise playing the full 40 minutes, guard Jawann McClellan going 38 and guard Daniel Dillon 28 off the bench, with O’Neill saying his team “”ran out of gas”” at the end.

    “”There’s not enough bodies over there at the perimeter positions to play them size down the whole game like we needed to, and that’s one of our downfalls today,”” he said. “”And let’s face it, when we play without Jerryd we’re not quite as good a team, and unfortunately we didn’t play well enough as a group today or coach well enough as a coach to get the win.””

    That meant forwards Bret Brielmaier, Fendi Onobun and Jamelle Horne played minutes Arizona would have been better off at both ends of the floor giving to guards it didn’t have with Bayless hurt and Laval Lucas-Perry having transferred in December.

    Trying to spark something, O’Neill went so far as to give walk-on guard David Bagga his first career appearance with the game still in doubt for 37 seconds at the end of the first half.

    Compounding those issues, forward Jordan Hill once again found himself in foul trouble, picking up his second personal eight minutes into the game and sitting for the rest of the half. Hill left with the Wildcats trailing by two; when he returned they trailed by 11 after trimming a Duck lead that grew to 19 at the end of an 18-2 run.

    That situation resembled what happened Dec. 29 at No. 2 Memphis, when the Tigers reeled off a 25-4 first-half run while Hill sat with two fouls.

    “”I thought about it, but if he gets to three before the half then you’ve got no chance at all,”” O’Neill said of his decision to keep the big man on the bench again. “”There’s not enough (bench depth) over there to take a chance on playing him like that.””

    Added Hill, “”It was stupid fouls that I got, and I regret having them, but I’ve just got to move on.””

    One positive that came out of the game for the Wildcats involved the aggressive play of forward Chase Budinger, who followed up Thursday’s 18-point second half with a 30-point, seven-rebound game against the Ducks, his second straight 30-point performance against Oregon.

    Budinger gave the Wildcats an early 17-14 lead with a 10-point burst in 2:16 and was at his best going toward the hole. He hit just three of 10 3-pointers but connected on nine of 12 shots inside the arc.

    “”The last three halves of basketball Chase has been much more aggressive, which he needs to be,”” O’Neill said. “”I don’t have any problems with the way we played offensively, we just didn’t get any stops.””

    Budinger, Wise and Hill each hit for double-digits in the second half, but every time the Wildcats made a push Oregon answered right back, twice scoring the possession after Arizona cut it to five, with guard Malik Hairston doing the most damage with a career-high-tying 29 points.

    O’Neill cautioned if his team got into a shot-making contest with Oregon it would lose, and that’s exactly what happened in the second half.

    “”We can’t do that,”” Wise said. “”We were making shots down the stretch, but we couldn’t get stops because they were making shots as well. You can’t trade basket for basket against good teams.

    “”You’ve got to learn to get stops down the stretch, and we didn’t do that.””

    And 1

    The loss dropped Arizona from No. 3 down to No. 11 in the RPI. The Wildcats maintained their No. 1 strength of schedule ranking. …

    Missing forward Joevan Catron (foot), the Ducks played six players at least 27 minutes and four at least 32. Those four players all scored at least 13 points. …

    The Wildcats scored 37 points in both halves.

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