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MBB: Once again, Ducks falter down the stretch

Though they play No.3 Arizona tough, Oregon cannot finish the deal, and drops yet another conference game. 

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Arizona Chris Coduto-USA TODAY Sports

As they have seemingly done all season, Oregon played to the level of its opponent, going toe to toe with No.3 Arizona in Tucson before finally falling 84-81.

The Ducks got off to a hot start, capturing an early 12-point lead behind 16 first half points from Will Richardson.

Arizona trimmed the lead all the way down to two by halftime and continued its momentum into the second, taking a six point lead with 15 minutes to go.

Oregon would continue to battle, and the Ducks nabbed a two point lead with three minutes to go.

A big 3-pointer by the Wildcats snapped a 76-76 tie and on the final possession, Oregon failed to get a shot off for the potential tie.

The loss was the third in the last four games for the Ducks, marking a very uncharacteristic downward spiral at this point in the season.

Traditionally, Dana Altman’s teams peak as February fades into March. But now Oregon can only look at where they were just a couple weeks ago (sitting at no.2 in the conference having won 10 of their last 11) and wonder what on Earth went so wrong.

With only four games remaining in the regular season, the Ducks are suddenly facing the prospect of battling just to have some postseason play, when before the recent slide they were fixed inside the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Oregon returns home next week to face UCLA and USC, whom they defeated back in January to begin their hot streak which has since fizzled out.

Arizona, meanwhile, most likely cleared their last big conference hurdle and have nearly locked up the top seed in the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament.