Arizona was finally handed its first loss on Thursday night at the hands of an Oregon Ducks squad that could be a dark horse to win the Pac-12 title.
Despite the Cardiac Cats’ luck, mojo, or whatever term you want to label the absurdness that has gone down in five of the first 15 games this season, there was no the escaping poor perimeter defense, stagnant offensive play, and turnovers that plagued Arizona in a 70-66 defeat.
After storming out to an 11-0 start behind three makes from outside, reality began to drizzle into the Matthew Knight Arena. In what has become the all-too-familiar theme, Arizona found itself lost in the middle of the forest-painted court.
The freshmen big men showed once again that they’re still, well, freshmen. And Nick Johnson just wasn’t mentally there on more than a couple plays – on both sides of the ball.
Arizona allowed the Ducks to have their way offensively by not sticking with their man. Time and time again, Oregon found itself with open looks from long range while a defender desperately closed in and waved his arms to no avail.
Meanwhile Kaleb Tarczewski had another rough outing in the paint against a respectable opposing center, this time by the name of Tony Woods. Oregon’s 6-11 senior used a jump hook repeatedly to score inside while Zeus struggled to even hit the rim with his attempts.
Arizona’s assist to turnover ratio was a staggering 0.8, or 11 to 14.
Johnson was the most accountable for that statistic and no turnover came at a worse time than the one that came in the final seconds. Following a ridiculous, banked three pointer from Lyons and then a trey from Johnson himself, Arizona found itself remarkably only down 69-66.
After a missed attempt by the Ducks, Johnson came down with the rebound and immediately dribbled into a hostile one-on-three, instead of passing the ball out for a potential game tying shot.
Seconds later, the neon colored student section stormed the court and Arizona’s record was perfect no more, at 14-1.