Las Vegas, NV – Arizona and Oregon battled for the Pac-12 Tournament title with the Ducks at a major disadvantage. Earlier Saturday they received word that their 6-10 senior forward Chris Boucher suffered a knee injury and would miss the remainder of the season. Playing without Boucher, a important part of Oregon’s success on both ends of the court and with little time to adjust, the Ducks were at a disadvantage against a talented Wildcat team. They showed heart and determination but in the end Arizona prevailed and left the T-Mobile Arena with an 83-80 win behind 23 points from Allonzo Trier.
Boucher is a non-traditional big who spends much of his time on offense in the corner or on the perimeter. That helps draw opposing bigs outside to guard him and opens up the interior for Oregon’s guards to penetrate. He also provides interior defense with his shot-blocking ability and is a strong rebounder. Arizona started the game by posting up 7-0 freshman Lauri Markkanen for two quick hoops but Oregon, with the help of 6-11 reserve Kavell Bigby-Williams, did a decent job of defending inside and ended the game tied with the Wildcats in points in the paint with each team scoring 36 points.
Where the loss of Boucher really hurt the Ducks was in the shortening of their rotation. Without Boucher coming off the bench the Ducks could only muster three bench points, all from Bigby-Williams. In contrast, Arizona had 23 bench points with solid minutes from point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright and bigs Chance Comanche and Dusan Ristic. Jackson -Cartwright made two key second half three-pointers and Comanche him a important, late corner jumper.
With Jordan Bell (16 points, 10 rebounds) as Oregon’s only reliable big, Arizona used their height and depth advantage to a +10 rebounding advantage. Trier grabbed eight rebounds and was particularly active on both ends of the court.
Arizona defends the ball extremely well led by their starting point guard Khadeem Allen. Oregon’s guards had trouble getting good looks in the first half. The Ducks shot 1-of-8 from distance in the half and needed 17 first half points from Dillon Brooks to close the half within six points (35-29) of Arizona. Oregon went into a press in the second half to speed the game up and to try to create opportunities in transition. The tactic worked as the team combined for 99 second half points with Oregon scoring 51. Tyler Dorsey (23 points) and Dylan Ennis (12) both got aggressive and were able to score off penetration.
Oregon battled back from a 14-point deficit and cut the lead to 77-75 on a Bell put-back. After Trier made two free throws Brooks took a quick three-pointer that looked bad coming off his hands. Arizona grabbed the rebound and Trier made the free throws to seal the victory. The Wildcats got their revenge from the 27-point drubbing the Duck administered in Eugene in the team’s only regular season meeting.
The loss shouldn’t hurt Oregon much in their NCAA hopes as they still will likely get a No. 2-seed. Arizona will likely move up to a No.2 with an outside chance of a No.1 seed due to their strength of schedule and their performance since Trier returned to the court.
This article was written by Carl Berman, Managing Partner of NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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