Down early in the second half, the Oregon Ducks (19-10, 9-7) never gave up the fight. The Ducks too advantage in the overtime period to knock-off the No.14 Arizona Wildcats (22-7, 12-4), 98-93, at Matthew Knight Arena.
With the controversy surrounding Arizona, the team played with great resolve. Sean Miller was not the sidelines after a report surfaced about improper recruiting tactics. He chose not to coach, knowing the impending questions he would face after the game and the hostile environment the Oregon Pit Crew would have given him.
Arizona’s leading scorer, Allonzo Trier, did not play due to being ruled ineligible by the NCAA after a being tested positive for a PED. The university is appealing the suspension. Trier was on the bench, motivating his teammates throughout the contest.
Deandre Ayton, the player in question from Miller’s absence, was eligible to play against the Ducks and had a monster performance. Ayton recorded a double-double with 28 points and 18 rebounds, building his case to be the potential top pick in this year’s NBA Draft should he declare.
But a cold streak for Ayton in the last five minutes of the second half and overtime turned the advantage into Oregon’s favor. Ayton’s teammates could not find him the ball, causing bad turnovers in which the Ducks capitalized.
Oregon forced 17 Arizona turnovers, allowing the Ducks to keep pace. Payton Pritchard did not have the best of performances, but his three-pointer off a Wildcats turnover at the beginning of overtime, swung the momentum in the Ducks favor.
The Ducks built a five-point lead in overtime until a costly turnover almost cut the lead down to two. Arizona’s Rawle Alkins got fouled from converting the dunk attempt on Oregon’s Kenny Wooten. After the play, Alkins received a technical after some choice words were directed towards Wooten.
Elijah Brown would make both free throws to preserve the five-point cushion. Brown turned his best performance of the season for the Ducks with 30 points, going 15-17 at the free-throw line. His 93 percent shooting from the free throw line is best in the Pac-12.
With a sellout crowd on hand and six seniors receiving recognition on Senior Day, the Ducks’ comeback win was special. Despite the turmoil surrounding the Wildcats, the Ducks earned a crucial victory in possibly earning a seed to the NCAA Tournament.
MiKyle McIntosh scored 20 points, and Paul White added 16 for the Ducks. Pritchard finished with 13 points.
Alkins finished with 24 points for the Wildcats, and Parker Jackson-Cartwright had 15. With the loss, Arizona has a one-game lead over USC for the Pac-12 regular season title.
Former Washington head coach, Lorenzo Romar, served as Miller’s replacement for the Wildcats. Romar joined the Arizona coaching staff this season. The Wildcats return home to finish the season against the Bay Area schools.
Oregon has an opportunity to enter the Pac-12 Tournament on a winning streak. The regular season concludes for the Ducks on the road against the Washington schools. Washington State is first up on Thursday. Tipoff begins at 6:00 p.m. PST with a telecast on ESPN2.