Late heroics were not in store for the Arizona Wildcats in Eugene on Thursday.
A week after Arizona got away with its luckiest win of the year against Colorado, the Oregon Ducks handed the Wildcats their first loss, 70-66.
Arizona jumped out to an 11-0 lead early, but sloppy passing allowed Oregon to get back into the game.
From that point on, the Ducks dominated the pace for the rest of the first half. It was sad to watch for Arizona fans.
The Wildcats turned the ball over seven times in the first half. This allowed Oregon to jump out to a 41-30 lead, capping a 41-19 run by the Ducks to end the half.
Arizona shot 12-of-28 (.429) from the field in the first half. Oregon shot lights out, going 17-of-30 (.567). Rebounding was fairly even, with Oregon having the slight edge on the boards, 15-12.
The key statistic which led to the double-digit halftime lead was Oregon's six steals against only one for Arizona.
Oregon was playing a zone for much of the first half, which seemed to give Arizona a lot of trouble. On three consecutive possessions, Arizona was blocked by the Ducks and prevented from trying to penetrate the lane.
Arizona came out attacking the rim in the second half, generating transition baskets from solid defense.
Oregon would bounce back and get the lead up to 13 points.
Oregon's size and speed was too much for the Wildcats tonight. Mark Lyons led the Cats with 21 points, but it was not nearly enough. His inconsistent play throughout the night proved costly.
The rest of the team had plenty of trouble shooting, too. There were rare occasions where the Wildcats hit perimeter jump shots. The majority of their scoring took place inside the paint.
Overall, Arizona moves the ball exceptionally well. If it can eliminate the poor passing, its level of efficiency will sky rocket.
Lackadaisical passing is not going to get it done in the NCAA. Teams come to play. You can't be sloppy with the rock. That's exactly what Arizona did on Thursday.
The story has been consistent throughout the year: play down to the level of the opposition for about 35 minutes, then turn it on in the last five.
The late-game push didn't get it done. The Cats cut the lead to three points with under 20 seconds to go. They even had a chance to tie it, but Nick Johnson was stripped of the ball, which pretty much sealed the deal.
It was good for this team of young guys to get their first loss if we are going to look at this from a positive angle. It was just unfortunate to come against a team that hadn't beaten a top-five opponent since 2007.
The remaining schedule for Arizona consists of games exclusively against Pac-12 competition.
Next up is Oregon State on ESPN2 on Saturday.
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