Carlos Emory celebrates a big win over Arizona. - Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Arizona brought a perfect record into Matthew Knight arena, but did not leave with it.
Coming into tonight, the Arizona Wildcats had faced challenges at home from both Colorado and Utah. The #4 Wildcats looked poised and ready as they jumped out to an early lead. The Ducks though, would not go away as they responded and held on down the stretch to upset the Wildcats 70-66, Thursday night. The fans rushed the floor and crowded onto the hardwood to celebrate Oregon's 17th consecutive home win, and biggest to date in Matthew Knight Arena. An elated EJ Singler commented after the game, "It's a great feeling. I'm just so happy our team fought at the end and got the W. I'm just so proud of our team right now." The Ducks used a balanced scoring attack with 4 players in double figures lead by EJ Singler's 14 points. For Arizona, Mark Lyons lead all scorers with 21, including 3 makes from 3. Solomon Hill contributed 16 in the losing effort.
It didn't look like the fans would be rushing the court when the game started. Arizona jumped out to an 11-0 lead, not allowing a basket until Carlos Emory hit a pair of jumpers to cut the lead to six. During that span, Senior Tony Woods would get off to a slow start and Waverly Austin came in to provide a much needed lift off the bench. On Austin's effort, Dana Altman was complimentary stating, "[His] two big blocks in the first half that kinda got our run going. I thought Wave was really good tonight. He keeps coming like that, he and Tony [Woods] are gonna give us a good one two punch." Emory's opening salvo would turn the momentum back to the Ducks and let the crowd really get into the game. "That's a true home court advantage for us," Johnathan Loyd added, "we had a lot of energy and we just rode it." The first half was frought with lead changes early as the two teams struggled to find separation from one another. The Ducks though, would start to build a lead in the last five minutes of the first half, getting points in the paint from a variety of scorers. Oregon took an 11 point lead into the half at 41-30 with momentum on their side.
The Ducks opened the second half with a three pointer from Damyean Dotson but then would surrender the next few baskets to Arizona. Throughout the year, the 'Cats have been able to bounce back from deficits with big runs but the Ducks remained poised on defense, never surrendering their lead. Oregon was able to keep Arizona at arms length throughout much of the second half but once again they would start a run. After going down 12, Arizona would respond with 8 quick points including an awkward looking bank three by Mark Lyons to cut the lead to 4. Singler would make a pair of free throws and Nick Johnson would respond with another 3 to bring the Wildcats back to within a single posession. Domenic Artis would try to respond but could not and Arizona got out on the break to try and tie up the game in the final ten seconds. It was not to be though as Nick Johnson lost the ball to Johnathan Loyd. Loyd's steal all but sealed the victory for the Ducks as he was fouled afterwards and made the final free throw to give the Ducks their final margin of 70-66. Loyd, " saw him [Nick Johnson] bringing it hard and I saw that DA [Dominic Artis]was going to cut him off... jumped to the side and he just put it in my hands, really."
The Ducks aren't satisfied with simply winning against a tough Arizona team. Their focus for this season seems to be summarized by Singler after the game, "Win the Pac-12. That's a big goal for us. I think the win at Oregon State and here is just the start." The Ducks are not taking any games for granted with a talented Arizona State team coming into town on Sunday. Singler continued, "Every game counts, so if we have that goal in mind I think we can come out with that emotion every game" One of the most telling statistics of the game was Oregon's turnovers, they only committed 12 for the second consecutive game, both wins.