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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona surges late but can’t overcome first-half woes

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Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat

After an emotional win over Oregon State on Thursday, the Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking 59-57 loss to the Oregon Ducks on Saturday in McKale Center.

The Ducks’ (13-5, 4-2 Pac-12) win was their eight in 34 visits to McKale Center.

“We’re not a gifted team,” head coach Sean Miller said. “We have to play really, really hard and we didn’t play hard enough to beat a hungry, good Oregon team.”

Arizona (12-6, 3-2) had the opportunity to tie or win the game with 29 seconds left in the game, but could not convert on a series of attempts.

Freshman Nick Johnson and senior Brendon Lavender had chances at 3s but neither could connect. The best opportunity was senior Kyle Fogg’s pull-up jumper from 12 feet as the clock expired, but the ball rimmed out.

Miller said he was comfortable with the last two shots the Wildcats had.

“I thought if you look at the last play, I’ll live with an open three from Brendon Lavender and a pull-up from Kyle,” Miller said.

The Wildcats mounted a 17-point comeback after trailing 41-24 at the 17:33 mark of the second half, starting with a second half burst from junior Solomon Hill.

Hill had just two points in the first half, but scored 13 points in the first seven minutes of the second half. At the 11:31 mark, Hill’s 13 second-half points equaled Oregon’s team total.

“Just tried of getting beat in my own gym,” Hill said. “They beat us in every aspect of the game. And I got tired of it.”

Hill hit three 3-pointers in four minutes during his run. He was previously 0-for-6 on 3-point attempts in the Wildcats’ previous Pac-12 games.

Using Hill’s momentum, Arizona climbed back into the game. The Wildcats went on a 9—0 run in three minutes and gave themselves a chance to win.

Arizona tied the game at the 3:25 mark when Josiah Turner stole the ball from Oregon’s Devoe Joseph and dunked to tie the game at 54 all.

“I just was in the gap man,” Turner said. “He penetrated and tried to kick it and I jumped it. I got the steal and tied the game.”

The Wildcats looked like a different team in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome their first half mistakes.

“I think that’s the problem. We waited for something to happen instead of actually doing to do it,” Johnson said. “I think that ‘s what happened in the first half why we got off to another slow start. “

Arizona was down 34-22 at the half, and was getting outplayed in all aspects of the game. The Wildcats were out-rebounded 16-11 and had 10 turnovers in the first half.

“We were overwhelmed,” Miller said. “It was men against boys.”

The rebounding difficulties gave Oregon second chances, and they took advantage with five second-chance points and scored 12 points off of Arizona’s turnovers.

Arizona had won five of its last six games before this loss. The Wildcats will play at Utah on Jan. 19 with a 6:30 p.m. start time.

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