The Wildcats, playing their first full game without the injured
sophomore starter, rallied past the Oregon Ducks 67-65 on Thursday
night at McKale Center to bounce back from their first loss of the
"Tonight's game is a real tribute to the team in that it took a lot
of resiliency on our part, a lot of belief, a lot of toughness.
Things weren't going our way," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "Just
a lot of different guys stepping up. To me, this was our best
victory of the season, based on who the game went and what the game
means and playing without Brandon."
Nick Johnson scored 18 points, including making 5 of 6 free throws
in the final minute, to lead the Wildcats (22-1, 9-1 Pac-12).
Forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had a double-double (14 points, 10
rebounds) as he stepped into the starting lineup for Ashley, who
suffered a season-ending foot injury early in the team's first loss
of the season at Cal on Saturday night.
"He's a warrior," point guard T.J. McConnell said of
Hollis-Jefferson, a high-energy freshman. "I tell him that every
day. He just goes out there and out-works people."
Oregon (15-7, 3-7) led by as many as seven points in the second
half, at 50-43, but the Ducks failed to end a month-long slump.
Oregon lost for the seventh time in nine games since starting the
"They're hurting," said coach Ducks Dana Altman. "That's our third
two-point loss. I just told them we have to be resilient. It hurts
having an opportunity and not being able to finish."
Oregon guard Joseph Young scored 14 points — all in the second half — to tie for the team scoring lead with guard Jason Calliste. Guard
Damyean Dotson added 12.
Arizona never had the lead in the second half until point guard T.J.
McConnell's 3-pointer put the Wildcats up 62-60 with 1:30 to go.
Johnson's free throws with 47.8 seconds left made it 64-60.
Johnson again made it a two-possession game with a free throw for a
67-63 lead with 15.7 seconds left. Dotson put in a dunk at the
buzzer for the final margin.
Oregon turned the ball over three times in the final five minutes
and missed 3 of 4 free throw attempts in the final 30 seconds.
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"It's the best game we have played all season," Young said. "It was
a good atmosphere to be in as a team. We know down the stretch we
need to execute and make better plays."
The Wildcats, who fell from No. 1 in the rankings Monday after eight
weeks at the top, led much of the first half but Oregon, the
Pac-12's top-scoring team at 84.7 points per game, regained the
advantage by hitting six of its final eight shots of the half. When
guards Dominic Artis and Calliste hit 3-pointers on back-to-back
possessions, the Ducks led 38-35.
Arizona cut its deficit to 38-37 at halftime when Hollis-Jefferson
tipped in a rebound with one second to go.
Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski had 12 points and seven rebounds for
Arizona. Forward Aaron Gorgon has six points and eight rebounds, but
was only 2 of 11 from the foul line.
The absence of Ashley makes Arizona smaller, erasing the team's
usual rebounding edge of 9.5 per game. Oregon had a 40-35 edge on
the glass, and at some point in the Miller split his pants, showing
up to his press conference in a T-shirt and sweats, joking that he
must have busted a seam while demonstrating proper block-out
technique on the sideline.
"Our room for rebounding error has left us," he said. "I think we'll
get it back. ... Post Brandon, we're moving toward figuring out who
we are going to become."
NOTES: The Arizona student section stood and chanted F Brandon
Ashley's name as he stood at midcourt during his team's warm-ups.
Ashley, out for his season, smiled and raised his crutches in
acknowledgement. ... Oregon senior F Mike Moser reached 1,000 career
points early in the game. Before his transfer to Oregon, he scored
690 points for UNLV at 36 at UCLA. ... Oregon G Joseph Young, the
team's leading scorer with 18.1 points per game, left the game in
the first minute with an injury. He returned about 4 1/2 minutes
later after trainers looked at his leg. ... Kevin Long, the hitting
coach of the New York Yankees and a former Arizona baseball
All-American, attended the game.
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