By Associated Press:
EUGENE, Ore. — For the second game in a row, Oregon found a way to exceed coach Dana Altman’s defensive expectations during the second half. The next challenge will be to bottle that intensity to take on the road.
Freshman Louis King scored 14 points and Oregon used two 12-0 runs in the second half to dominate the Wildcats 73-47 on Saturday night.
“Tonight was our best night of the season, even better than Thursday,” Altman said. “There was really a connection with all the guys.”
Oregon held the Wildcats (17-13, 8-9) to 19.2 percent shooting in the second half, including 1 of 12 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the Ducks shot 57.7 percent after halftime and matched Arizona’s 36 rebounds, led by King and Okoro with seven each.
“I thought it was our best,” Altman said. “Everybody in the boat and everybody rowing the same way, and I thought they did a good job.”
Dylan Smith led the Wildcats with 14 points, all in the first half, and Brandon Williams had 12 off the bench. The loss was Arizona’s sixth in its last eight meetings with Oregon and came within a point of its 85-58 drubbing in Eugene two years ago.
Altman recited from memory the exact point totals the Ducks allowed in the second halves of their three recent road losses, capped by the 62 they surrendered at UCLA after leading big in the first half.
The difference at home against the Arizona schools came down to better communication.
“It was talking, just being focused,” senior Paul White said. “One of the things that we lack sometimes is we lose focus and make mistakes, and other teams capitalize on them. We’ve kind of cut down on our mistakes, so it just makes it harder for teams to score on us.”
The Wildcats shot 31.3 percent overall, their third-worst performance of the season, and saw their 15 turnovers lead to 15 points for the Ducks. The 47 points also were the fewest for Arizona in coach Sean Miller’s 10 seasons in Tucson.
“They just played harder than us,” said the freshman Williams. “I’ve got to give them credit. They were the better team, they were the stronger and more physical team, so we’ve just got to be ready next time.”
In a first half of scoring runs by both teams, Arizona survived a 12-1 gap in turnovers and only two points from posts Ira Lee and Chase Jeter to go to the locker room even at 31. The Wildcats scored the game’s first nine points but fell behind by 11 after 13 minutes at 25-14, only to ride a 17-3 burst to regain the lead.
Arizona missed its first sweep of the Oregon trip since 2009 and slid all the way to 10th in the Pac-12 standings with one game to play before the conference tournament. It also snapped the Wildcats’ three-game winning streak.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Oregon committed just three turnovers, its fewest in two seasons, and got 27 points from its bench. The Ducks went nine deep and all scored at least four points before Altman subbed in two walk-ons in the final minute.
Arizona had closed within 47-40 before Okoro bulled his way inside for consecutive baskets against Ryan Luther, who was playing with four fouls after picking up a technical earlier in the second half that helped ignite one of Oregon’s 12-0 runs.
Arizona: Hosts Arizona State next Saturday.
Oregon: At Washington State on Wednesday night.