TOP-STORY

Playing without Sean Miller, Arizona fights hard but falls to Oregon 98-93 in overtime

IMG_0414
Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat Arizona's Deandre Ayton (13) dunks over USC's Chimezie Metu (4) during the second half of the UA-USC game on Saturday, Feb. 10 at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. Ayton had 18 points and seven rebounds in the game.

Playing without head coach Sean Miller or Allonzo Trier, Deandre Ayton tied his career high with 28 points and 18 rebounds, but Arizona men’s basketball gave up a 13 point second half lead to fall to Oregon 98-93 in overtime Saturday at Matthew Knight Arena.

Arizona had as much as a 12 point lead in the first half and a 13 point lead in the second half, but Oregon charged back into the game with a 12-2 run midway through the first half. 

Dylan Smith hit a late 3-pointer to tie the game for Arizona with 20 seconds left in regulation. Oregon then missed a floater by Payton Pritchard, and the game went to overtime tied 83-83. 

The Ducks overwhelmed the Wildcats in overtime, outscoring them 15-10. 

The loss drops the Wildcats to 22-7 overall and 12-4 in the Pac-12. Despite losing, Arizona still holds first place in the conference by one game over USC, who is 12-5 in the Pac-12. 

A few hours before the game, the University of Arizona athletic department announced that head coach Sean Miller would not coach the game due to a ESPN report that he had discussed paying $100,000 to help ensure that Deandre Ayton came to Arizona

Arizona’s assistant coach, and former Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar, filled in as the interim head coach in Millers absence. 

Ayton, the man in question, played as if he had a chip on his shoulder. He played with energy and aggression, scoring his 19th double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds by the end of the first half. The freshman big man was a threat from all over the court, hitting jump shots, posterizing the smaller Oregon players and even running the floor in transition. 

Despite Ayton’s initial performance, he fell quiet in the final 10 minutes of regulation and did not score in overtime. 

Rawle Alkins followed Aytons performance with 24 points of his own, however he picked up a crucial technical foul with just under two minutes left in overtime. Arizona was down five points and Alkins got fouled on a breakaway dunk. After the dunk he said something to the Oregon player that fouled him and the official whistled him for a technical, sending Oregon to the line for two points. 

Alkins, also hit a deep contested three to bring the game within three points, with four seconds left in overtime, but it wasn't enough. 

However, what hurt Arizona the most, were turnovers, all 17 of them to be exact. The Wildcats struggled to take care of the ball and turned it over at crucial moments, while Oregon, on the other hand, turned it over only four times. 

For Oregon, Elijah Brown scored 30 points, while Mikyle McIntosh added 20 and Paul White chipped in 16. 

Arizona was playing without its second best player, Allonzo Trier, who missed his second game in a row. Trier was suspended by the NCAA due to a reappearance of the same banned substance that forced him to miss 19 games last year.

As a team, Arizona started the game with a unusually fast pace, hitting its first six field goals. The Wildcats lead the Ducks by as much as 12 in the first half, but Oregon closed the gap to six by halftime. 

Arizona opened the second half with five straight points and then climbed back to a 13 point lead with 17:03 left in the game. Oregon answered with a 8-0 run, but Arizona pushed back, however Oregon rattled off a 10-0 run midway through the half, taking its first lead of the game with 9:08 to go. 

Overall, Arizona shot 58 percent from the floor, and held Oregon to 43 percent, but the Ducks took 16 more shot attempts than the Wildcats. Many of those attempts came from offensive rebounds, as the Dunks outrebounded Arizona 15-10 of the offensive glass. 

Arizona returns home to play Stanford Thursday at 8:00 p.m. on FS1. 


Follow Nate Airulla on Twitter


Share this article