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MBB: Wildcats overpower Ducks, tourney hopes get even slimmer

This time it was Oregon’s defense that had its issues

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Arizona Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

Exactly what Oregon did so well against Arizona in Eugene turned out to be exactly what was their undoing during the rematch in Tucson.

The Ducks defense was blitzkrieged by the fifth ranked Cats and it all ended in a 91-76 loss that put Oregon in a zero-error situation for the rest of the season.

Even with the size of Nate Bittle and N’Faly Dante, Oregon had no answer for Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis, who notched a 40-point game. The Wildcats remained in control throughout the game, despite numerous spurts by Oregon that got them within striking range. Head coach Dana Altman lamented that the Ducks defense lacked fundamentals on this night, and displayed a complete turnaround from what they were able to do in the first matchup.

The heated rivalry between Oregon and Arizona on the hardwood over the last decade was a story of home court advantage in 2023, with each team holding serve in their own building. Road games have plagued the Ducks all year, as they have just a 2-4 record in opponents’ buildings.

If there’s one thing the Ducks have shown this year it is an ability to bounce back from losses. They will have to do that in a big way as they travel to Tempe next to face Arizona State.

With eight games remaining in the regular season, Oregon’s margin for error becomes slim to none. To have a chance at making the tourney, the Ducks will most likely have to win out, or at the very least win seven of the final eight. A home victory over UCLA is a must, as Oregon’s only really impressive resume win came against Arizona in Eugene.