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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    A tale of two halves puts Arizona on the bubble

    A tale of two halves puts Arizona on the bubble

    Oregon 78, Arizona 69

    Oregon lives and dies by the 3-point shot, but that may never be more true than it was Saturday night.

    The Ducks (18-12, 9-9 Pacific 10 Conference) scorched the nets in the second half – hitting 8-of-9 3s (88.9 percent) after a 2-for-10 showing in the first half – on their way to a 78-69 home win over Arizona (18-13, 8-10), who now sits squarely on the bubble after finishing in seventh place in the league.

    “”They missed them in the first half and made them in the second half,”” UA interim head coach told the Arizona Daily Wildcat in a phone interview after the game.

    Blown assignments contributed to the downpour of UO shots, as the Ducks hit 81.3 percent (13-for-16) overall from the field in the second half in comparison to 46.9 percent in the first half, whereas Arizona converted just 36.7 of its shots in the second half.

    That didn’t cut it when Oregon nailed 19 of its last 22 shots in the game, a clip of 86.4 percent.

    “”They were hot (in the second half), but we needed to make them miss,”” UA guard Jerryd Bayless told GoDucks.com. “”If you’re going to miss assignments like that, they’re going to make them. They have great shooters.””

    The turning point came five minutes into the second half when UA forward Chase Budinger missed an open 3 that would have put Arizona up seven, which would have been its biggest lead of the game.

    Instead Oregon guard Tajuan Porter reined in 3s on the Ducks’ next three possessions to jumpstart a 15-2 run in which Oregon ran away with the game.

    “”They were huge,”” O’Neill said of Porter’s 3s. “”You don’t even have to ask that question. You watched the game, right?

    “”They’re a real streak team, and they streaked, and we weren’t able to get back.””

    The loss means the Wildcats will take the court Wednesday night in the play-in game of the Pac-10 Tournament against Oregon State, who they beat by 36 points on Thursday. Arizona had never finished lower than fifth or lost more than seven games in the league in the last 23 years, which is the same number of consecutive seasons the team has reached the NCAA Tournament.

    Still, 13 teams with conference records two games under .500 have been selected to the Big Dance, although seven came from the Atlantic Coast Conference and no Pac-10 team has ever gone dancing without a record over .500 in league play.

    Despite an RPI at No. 27 and a strength of schedule ranked No. 2 entering the game, the Wildcats could be in trouble if ASU or Oregon make some noise in the league tournament as both teams swept the season series from Arizona. It’s doubtful seven teams would make it, but O’Neill does not plan to worry too much about things he can’t control.

    “”We’re going to take it one day at a time and let the committee do their job,”” he said. “”That’s about all you can do.””

    Foul trouble doomed the Wildcats in Oregon, as forward Jordan Hill and guard Bayless each picked up four fouls halfway through the second half and had to sit during crucial stretches, with Bayless playing 33 minutes and Hill 18.

    None of Hill’s fouls came in the fashion coaches would like to see their big guys pick them up.

    In the first half he collected two six and a half minutes into the game, one on a frustration foul going for a rebound after missing a shot in the paint and another trying to poke away an entry pass while playing post defense. Four minutes into the second half he picked up his third trying to take a charge on a debatable call, and his fourth came four minutes later on a charging call just before Hill passed the ball for a would-be Budinger layup.

    Bayless picked up his third foul with 3:30 left in the first half after getting tangled up with UO guard LeKendric Longmire, part of a crew of Ducks who frustrated him into a 6-for-16 outing. Longmire knocked Bayless down while playing him physically and stood directly over him as he tried to get up; Bayless then caused Longmire to fall over in the tussle.

    “”Foul trouble was a big issue,”” O’Neill said. “”We got some dumb fouls in first half. We got a couple key players on the bench. Without Jordan in there it put us in a tough spot.””

    Without Hill for half the game the Wildcats were outrebounded 36-23, extra painful when considering how well the Ducks shot in the second half.

    Budinger grabbed nine rebounds for Arizona but none of his teammates collected more than three, while UO forward Maarty Leunen snatched 15 by himself and forward Joevan Catron added 12, which O’Neill attributed to the Ducks being aggressive.

    “”It was a very physical game down low,”” Budinger told GoDucks.com. “”Boards were a huge key to the game, and they outboarded us.””

    Budinger scored 16 and Bayless a team-high 19 as four Wildcats reached double figures, but Budinger said Oregon denied him on his pindowns, something they did not do in the last two meetings when he dropped in 30 twice in a row.

    Guard Nic Wise played all 40 minutes and contributed 12 points and eight assists in what O’Neill expected to be his toughest game back following knee surgery being that the second game back often is.

    But that wasn’t enough, as the Wildcats could not capitalize on a chance to all but punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

    “”We played really well tonight for 30 minutes and then just didn’t finish the job,”” O’Neill said.

    And 1

    Oregon swept the season series from Arizona for the first time since the 2001-02 campaign. … Wise did not turn the ball over once in his 40 minutes, and the Wildcats turned it over just six times as a team. … Five players scored in double figures for the Ducks, who have won three in a row.

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