Eugene, OR – After losses by USC and UCLA this past weekend Oregon was in control to potentially win the Pac-12 regular season title if they could win their last three games. First up tonight were the Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats were playing their final game of the season as they will not participate in the Pac-12 conference tournament or the NCAA tournament due to a self-imposed ban in front of potential NCAA sanctions. Oregon gradually pulled away in the second half for an 80-69 win. Chris Duarte scored 22 points to lead Oregon with Eugene Omoruyi adding 21. LJ Figueroa (14) and Will Richardson (12) also scored in double figures. James Akinjo led the Wildcats with 19 points. Overall, the game was one of Oregon’s best efforts of the season. The win was the eight in their last nine games.
Duarte and Omoruyi were particularly effective. Duarte connected on 4-of-5 3s and 7-of-10 overall from the field and added seven rebounds and two assists. Omoruyi got off to a slow start but finished 5-of-14 from the field including 3-of-6 from deep and added 8-of-9 free throws. He pulled down five rebounds and was active defensively with four steals.
Both teams got off to a good start offensively. Arizona’s Kerr Kriisa hit two early three-pointers while Oregon connected on five of their first six three-pointers to take a 19-13 lead. Figueroa and Duarte made two apiece. Then the Ducks went into an offensive funk, missing ten straight field goal attempts over a six-minute stretch. Franck Kepnang’s emphatic duck off an offensive rebound broke that streak and gave Oregon a two-point lead. Bennedict Mathurin (9 points) came back for the Wildcats with a three-pointer to give them a 24-23 lead at the under eight-minute media break. Arizona took a 33-27 lead on a nice feed from Akinjo to Jordan Brown for an easy layup. Three-pointers from Omoyuri and Duarte tied the game at 33 and a driving layup from Figueroa gave the Ducks a two-point lead. Another Omoyuri three, finished a 13-3 Duck run into halftime to give Oregon a 40-36 halftime lead.
The Ducks connected on 8-of-12 three-pointers in the half but only made 5-of-22 two-point shots. The Wildcats shot 52 percent overall including 6-of-13 from deep. Arizona had eight turnovers from which Oregon generated 12 points. Oregon committed only two turnovers that resulted in only two Arizona points. Duarte led the Ducks with 13 points, making all three of his three-point attempts. Omoruyi missed his first seven shots but then made two straight 3s and closed the half with eight points. Akinjo led the Wildcats with eight points on 2-of-4 from deep. Rebounding was about even with Oregon having an 18-16 edge.
Oregon came out strong at the start of the second half with an 11-4 run with Omoruyi scoring six and Richardson nailing a 3 for a 51-40 lead. Arizona came right back with a 3 from Muthurin and then a traditional three-point play from Lithuanian freshman Azuolas Tublelis (12 points) to cut the deficit to five. Duarte then scored five straight points to extend the lead to ten. A three-point play from Omoyuri and a three-pointer from Richardson extended Oregon’s lead to 66-54 with 7:54 remaining. Arizona could only get within nine points the rest of the way as the Ducks pulled away for the win. Oregon managed foul trouble for Figueora (23 minutes) and Eric Williams Jr. (9 points in 31 minutes) as both drew their fourth fouls midway through the half.
Both teams shot 45 percent from the field but the Ducks had a big advantage on three-pointers (12-of-22) compared to 8-of-23 for the Wildcats. Oregon also had an edge at the free throw line shooting 82 percent (18-of-22) while Arizona shot 68 percent (13-of-19). The Ducks won the battle of the boards by 37-29 with a 11-7 edge on the offensive boards. The game was well played with only 16 total turnovers (Arizona (9), Oregon (7).
Oregon (17-5, 12-4) will face UCLA at home on Wednesday evening in a game that may decide the regular season Pac-12 title. Arizona’s (17-9, 11-9) season is now over.