After pulling off late comebacks all year long, Arizona could not do it again and lost its first game of the season to Oregon by a score of 70-66 Thursday night.
The Wildcats came out on the road ready to play and built up an 11-0 lead to start the game.
However, that did not last long, as Oregon came back and ended up leading at halftime by a score of 41-30. The Ducks offense was incredibly efficient before intermission with a 56.7 shooting percentage and an assist-to-turnover ratio of 12:4.
With under five minutes left, the lead had spread to 13, but that was the point where the Wildcats woke up. Like it had done so many times this year, Arizona put on the pressure late and started hitting shots to crawl back into contention.
The margin eventually went down to three points before a Johnathan Loyd free throw put the game out of reach with only seconds remaining.
Students then rushed the floor after watching their Ducks knock off the No. 4 team in the country.
Oregon had incredible balance on the day. Four players scored in double figures, with E.J. Singler leading the way with 14 points. He also had seven assists, seven rebounds and three steals on the day.
On the other side, the Wildcats were led offensively by Mark Lyons. The senior came up big at the end of the game and finished with 21 points, although it was not enough to get the win. Solomon Hill also added 16 points and six rebounds for the team.
Arizona entered the game as one of only three undefeated teams in the country along with Duke and Michigan. Wyoming was 14-0 before dropping to Boise State on Wednesday.
The Wildcats had survived a number of scares already this season with narrow victories over San Diego State, Colorado, Florida and Utah. However, the team could not continue this magical run in losing its first game of the year.
Meanwhile, Oregon had flown under the radar, as the team came in with a 12-2 record. The squad's only losses were to Cincinnati on a neutral court and on the road against UTEP in triple overtime.
However, this impressive performance against one of the top teams in the country is certain to earn more respect around the conference and nation.
Things do not get any easier for the Wildcats, as they continue their three-game road trip around the Pac-12. The next two games take place at Oregon State and at rival Arizona State.
Oregon only gets a few days off before hosting tough Arizona State.
Announcer Bill Walton was a big hit during the game with a few dramatic expressions that made their way to Twitter:
"You've got the fate of the known world in the balance right here." -Bill Walton on tonight's Arizona-Oregon game @espn— Gideon Cohen (@Gideon_Cohen) January 11, 2013
"One of the nine worst possessions in the history of Oregon basketball," says Bill Walton.Yeah.— Justin Welton (@JustinWelton) January 11, 2013
Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports had some positive words for Oregon, as the squad continued to impress throughout the game:
Oregon answering every punch thrown by Arizona. Ducks acting like they belong. Really good team.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 11, 2013
A few analysts pointed out the fact that Arizona had been in this position before. Rob Dauster of College Basketball Talk predicted a comeback at halftime:
But anyone talking upset right has apparently not watch Arizona play this season. This is right where the Wildcats want Oregon ...— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) January 11, 2013
Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports also knew how the Wildcats usually play:
Oh, Arizona is going to need a double-digit comeback in order to stay undefeated? I'm shocked.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) January 11, 2013
And ESPN's Seth Davis summed up what this game means for the college basketball world:
Arizona goes down. Duke and Michigan now the only undefeated teams.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) January 11, 2013
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