Arriving in Tucson tied for first in the Pac-12, No. 23 Oregon had an opportunity to not only end No. 18 Arizona’s 49-game home win streak but also add another quality win to their résumé. Mission accomplished, as the Ducks rebounded from a slow start to beat the Wildcats 83-75.
What a difference a year makes for the Oregon program, which was blown out at McKale by 34 points last January in the second of three double-digit losses to the eventual Pac-12 champions.
Arizona made 12 of its first 13 shots on the night and looked poised to run away with the game, but their issues with turnovers and defending the Ducks off the bounce caught up to Sean Miller’s team. Arizona turned the ball over ten times in the first half, a big reason why Oregon was able to trim the deficit to three by the intermission. Overall the Wildcats turned the ball over 19 times, with Oregon converting those mistakes into 21 points on the other end of the floor.
Instead of building a solid working margin that one would expect for a team that shot nearly 73 percent from the field, Arizona found itself in a dogfight. And as the turnovers mounted for Arizona so did the paint points given up on the other end, as Oregon outscored the Wildcats 44-26 in the paint. Oregon was able to spread out Arizona and find quality looks around the basket, with many of those opportunities coming by way of dribble penetration.
Dillon Brooks, who poses a matchup problem for many teams as a undersized four, led five Ducks in double figures with 24 points and 22 of Oregon’s 32 made field goals came in the paint. Overall Oregon’s offensive versatility allows them to use multiple players at a variety of positions, making them an incredibly difficult team to defend. And as was the case in Arizona’s loss at USC, this proved to be something Sean Miller’s team could not find the right answers for.
Arizona doesn’t defend at the level that their last three teams did, and without a consistently steady hand at the point they’ve proven to be more turnover prone as well. That combination won’t work if they’re to win another Pac-12 title.
Arizona shot better than 61 percent from the field but their margin for error is slim, as evidenced by how they lost Thursday night. The Wildcats left the door open with some shoddy ball-handling, and Oregon proved more than capable of taking advantage. In ending the nation’s longest home win streak, Oregon strengthened its standing within the Pac-12 while also exorcising some demons from last season.