Eugene, OR – The Oregon Ducks entered their final week at home needing wins against Arizona State and Arizona to keep any hopes of receiving an NCAA tournament at-large berth alive. They started off with a solid effort in a 75-68 win over the Sun Devils. However their game against Arizona as overshadowed by allegations that Wildcat head coach Sean Miller was heard on an FBI wiretap offering $100K to assure the signing of Deandre Ayton. While just hearsay at this point, Miller elected to not coach the game against Oregon. His place was taken by former Washington head coach, and current Arizona assistant, Lorenzo Romar. Ayton, still eligible, played in the contest.
Mikyle McIntosh (20 points) hit a three-pointer late in overtime to give Oregon a seven-point lead and help them to a hard-fought 98-93 win over Arizona before a sellout crowd. Elijah Brown scored a season-high 30 points to lead Oregon. Payton Pritchard had another solid game running Oregon’s offense with 13 points, five rebounds, and eight assists with only one turnover. Ayton was impressive for the Wildcats with 28 points and 18 rebounds but Oregon did not let him score for the last 11:33 of the game. Rawle Alkins added 24 points for Arizona.
Brown got to the foul line 17 times, making 15. He shot a not very efficient 6-of-18 but made several important three-pointers and three-point plays. Oregon took care of the ball only committing four turnovers with 20 assists against Arizona’s 17 turnovers. The Ducks out-rebounded Arizona by five in the second half and overtime after being out-rebounded by ten in the first half. Oregon had a 20-4 edge in points off turnovers.
After all the breaking news it was interesting to see how Arizona came out at the start of the game. They made their first five shots and ran out to 21-12 lead by the first media time out. Ayton made his first four shots including two from mid-range. The Wildcats had 31 points in the first 10:30 and held a 12-point lead. Oregon then inserted 6-6 freshman Abu Kigab into the lineup. Kigab hustled and helped create two Arizona turnovers in traps. The Ducks used that energy to get back into the game. They had a chance to tie the game on two three-point attempts in the last minute but misfired. Arizona came back and Ayton scored, was fouled and converted on the three-point play to give the Wildcats a 43-37 halftime lead. Ayton had 17 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks at the half with Oregon having no one who could match up with him. Arizona held a 21-11 edge on the glass.
Arizona took a 13-point lead early in the second half after layup by Parker Jackson- Cartwright but the Ducks battled back and cut the lead to 55-53 on a three-pointer by Elijah Brown. Arizona then ran off seven straight points to take a 62-53 lead. Oregon came back again and took the lead at 65-64 after six straight points from Elijah Brown. Brown was fouled on a three-point attempt, made all his free throws and then hit a three from the wing after a Kigab steal. A Pritchard three-pointer brought the Ducks lead to four. Arizona tied the game at 70 after a steal and lay-in from Jackson-Cartwright. The teams battled through a tie at 73 then Oregon took a 78-74 lead after an Elijah Brown three-point play. A three-pointer by Paul White from the top of the key brought the Ducks lead to 81-76 with 1:30 left. Arizona’s Dylan Smith tied the game at 83 on a three-pointer with 22 seconds remaining giving Oregon a chance to end the game on the last possession. Pritchard missed on a drive sending the game to overtime.
In the overtime Oregon scored the first five points on a Pritchard three and a drive from Troy Brown (11 points). Arizona closed Oregon’s lead to three points on several occasions but couldn’t get closer than that in the extra period. The Wildcats were hurt by Allonzo Trier’s absence. Trier missed his second straight game after being suspended after a trace of PED’s were found in his system. Dylan Smith received most of Trier’s minutes and although he shot well (4-of-5, 11 points), he committed six turnovers and fouled out in the overtime. Oregon double and triple-teamed Arizona’s bigs much of the second half , limiting Ayton and Dusan Ristic’s (9 points, 7 rebounds) effectiveness late in the game.
The Ducks played one of their better games of the year against Arizona State. They had strong effort on the boards, out-rebounding the Sun Devils by eight, including a 12-5 edge on the offensive glass. They had 14 assists against only seven turnovers and shot a decent 41 percent. Most importantly they were successful in getting better looks inside and outscored Arizona State 36-14 in the paint.
Elijah Brown was solid throughout this contest. He hit a three-pointer at the end of the first half to give the Ducks a 43-40 lead. Then he scored the first seven points of the second half to put Oregon up by ten points. Arizona State’s Kimani Lawrence made a three-points with 11:24 remaining to cut the lead the three but Oregon scored the next seven points and weren’t seriously threatened for the rest of the contest. Brown led the Ducks with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting and added a team-high seven rebounds. He was helped by Mikyle McIntosh (16 points) who while shooting a inefficient 5-of-18, stent time trying to score inside and got to the foul line nine times. Payton Pritchard played an efficient game at the point with nine points, five rebounds and six assists with zero turnovers. Kenny Wooten, the 6-9 freshman, played well off the bench after two off-games in Los Angeles. Wooten added six points, three rebounds and four blocks in 21 minutes of action.
The Sun Devils were led by senior guard Shannon Evans‘ game-high 25 points, helped by 10-of-10 from the charity stripe. Leading scorer Tra Holder (19.3 ppg) was held scoreless in 30 minutes of court time, shooting 0-of-6. Kody Justice made three shots from long distance and added 12 points while speedy 6-0 Remy Martin scored 15 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists, making up some of the slack from Holder’s off-night.