Eugene, OR – The No. 9-ranked Arizona Wildcats visited the Oregon Ducks at Matthew Knight Arena Saturday afternoon looking to sweep the Oregon schools. The Ducks had other plans and came out with an impressive performance as they ran away with an 87-68 victory over the Wildcats, led by Jermaine Couisnard and N’Faly Dante. The duo combined to score 49 points and came up with big plays throughout the contest in front of 7,970 in attendance.
The first half started off with Dante stealing a pass and dunking the ball with authority nearly over Kerr Kriisa. He got the foul on the dunk and completed the 3-point play. The aggressive play of the 6-11 senior, who scored 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting, adding five rebounds and two steals in the first half alone, provided an early spark for Oregon. Dante made an imprint all over the game whether finishing strong around the rim, causing turnovers, or attacking the offensive glass.
Arizona’s trio of Courtney Ramey, Azoulas Tubelis, and Omar Ballo collectively scored the Wildcats’ first 19 points of the game as they had a 19-13 lead with just over 12 minutes left in the half. The trio seemed to be in complete control with brilliant movement and easy baskets both inside and out. Ramey, a transfer from the Texas, finished the game with 12 points, going 4-for-8 downtown. He did have a hard time finishing around the basket, shooting 4-of-12 overall for the game. Big man, Ballo, who followed Coach Tommy Lloyd from Gonzaga, contributed 10 points (5-for-10 FG), seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
The Ducks didn’t trail long and responded with a 10-0 run in less than two minutes to lead 23-19. During the run, the player of the game, Couisnard attempted a pass to Dante just beyond half-court. It sailed over Dante’s head and found its way in the basket for a 3-pointer. Shortly after, Couisnard drove in the paint and scored on a floater and drew the foul, completing a 3-point play. The 6-4 combo guard, playing only in his fourth game as a Duck, tallied 27 points (9-of-14 FG), five rebounds and three steals. He was in the zone and connected on 6-for-9 on 3s, which was a huge boast considering Oregon’s 3-point shooting woes on the season. The Ducks went into the half leading 43-37.
The second half, saw an aggressive Will Richardson after he had a slow start to the game. He scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half and helped to extend the Ducks’ lead early in the half. He was looking for his shot, and constantly on the attack to set up his teammates for open looks. Richardson didn’t have his best shooting night but made an impact in other ways on the court dishing out five assists, adding four steals and pulling down three rebounds. Nathan Bittle, a 7-foot sophomore out of Central Point, Oregon contributed 10 points (4-of-7 FG), netting two 3s and collected four rebounds.
Tubelis, an 2023 NBA Draft prospect, had his moments of scoring around the basket with strong finishes with both his left and right hand. The 6’11” power forward, was ultimately held in check shooting, making 5-of-13 attempts in the game to score 14 points. He added six rebounds, three assists and two steals. The Ducks defense in the second half held not only Tubelis in check but the rest of the Wildcat team by holding them to 31 percent shooting. In addition, Oregon had 13 steals, over 50 deflections and scored 19 points off Arizona’s 16 turnovers in the game. The bench for Arizona was a bright spot with Kylan Boswell scoring 15 points (5-for-11 FG) and knocking down three 3-pointers.
Down the stretch, Oregon kept the attack on, building a 20-point lead with just over three minutes remaining, after a beautiful up and under move by Dante to cap off his 22 point (9-for-11 FG), 10 rebound double-double performance. For the contest, Oregon shot 53 percent as a team, outrebounded the Wildcats 42-32, including a 14- 5 margin in points in the paint. The Ducks effort at both ends of the floor proved to be too much for the visitors and led them to a big time upset over Arizona.
Oregon (10-8, 4-3) will travel to the Bay Area to challenge California (3-15, 2-5) on January 18th. Arizona (15-3, 4-3) will look for a bounce back win against USC (13-5, 5-2) on January 19th.