Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats Duck Too Low in Second Half Against Oregon

Will the real Arizona Wildcats please stand up?

The team that hung tough to the end against Oregon State despite foul trouble with Brandon Williams and a knee injury suffered by Chase Jeter?

Or the team that has suffered uninspiring road losses of 23 points to USC, 21 to UCLA and 26 to Oregon?

Arizona coach Sean Miller must deal with the real team that would stand with this question.

The Wildcats unquestionably are a team with limitations, any where from poor shooting to not being able to stay healthy and out of foul trouble. The chance that Miller has mumbled, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” under his breath this year, is very high.

“Right now, when you’re in the year that we’re in, you really need things to align and you always have your fingers crossed for the best health that you can have,” Miller told Brian Jeffries in the postgame radio show following the 73-47 loss to the Ducks in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday night.

The Ducks pulled away with a 42-16 margin in the second half, helped by Arizona shooting only 19.2 percent from the floor. Oregon scored at will with its penetration, making 57.7 percent of its shots after halftime.

Dylan Smith led Arizona with 14 points but he went scoreless in the second half missing all seven shots he attempted.

Jeter watched the deterioration from the bench the entire second half after playing only six minutes in the first half because of his bruised knee injury suffered Thursday against Oregon State.

Ryan Luther watched helplessly as Oregon pulled away after he was given his fourth foul on a technical foul with 16:15 left in the game. Arizona trailed only 36-35 at that time, but Oregon coach Dana Altman knew the disparity with Francis Okoro now matched with Arizona walk-on Jake Desjardins on the block.

Okoro made all four of shot attempts — all in the paint on post-up moves — in the second half.

“They overwhelmed us in the second half. They wore us down,” said Miller.

Ira Lee, with his non-stop motor, “did as well as he could do under the circumstances,” Miller said, to go against Oregon’s army of power forwards. Lee had seven rebounds in 33 minutes but he made only 1 of 2 shots, which shows how tough it was to take a shot against the Ducks’ length around the basket.

“(Lee) gave up a lot of size,” Miller said. “Ryan Luther picks up his fourth foul … You run out of bodies. It was like being in L.A. against UCLA and USC (without injured Jeter). You can do the best that you can.”

Arizona weathered a storm in the first half, going into the locker room tied at 31 with Oregon, despite committing 12 turnovers. The Ducks outscored the Wildcats 12-0 in points-off-turnovers and went on a 23-3 run to seemingly take control.

The Wildcats stormed back on a 17-3 run to take a 31-28 lead on a 3-pointer by Devonaire Doutrive with 1:02 left in the first half.

Jeter and Brandon Williams played only six minutes each in the first half. Jeter exited for good after he had trouble with his lateral movement. Williams, who fouled out at Oregon State, had his third foul against the Ducks with 6:08 left in the half.

Smith and Doutrive were crucial for Arizona staying in the game by halftime, combining for 20 points in the first half on 7-of-9 shooting, 5 of 6 from 3-point range.

“We can get through 20 minutes but what starts to happen when you’re in the situation that we’re in, it’s like death by inches,” Miller said about the second-half collapse. “The longer that the game goes as they sub quality and they have the size advantage, as we get into foul trouble, and we wear down, you really feel it.”

Brandon Randolph was not feeling it from the perimeter, making only 1 of 9 shots from the field against Oregon after making 7 of 8 shots in the win over the Beavers.

As Randolph goes, so go the Wildcats. He has made only 25.5 percent of his shots in Arizona’s nine conference losses, while shooting 40.4 percent in the eight wins.

The good news for Arizona is that it gets a full week off before ASU comes to town Saturday. Jeter can heal his knee. And the Wildcats, who are in 10th place in the Pac-12, can mend their psyche.

No conference title will be on the line. Arizona will not get a bye in the Pac-12 tournament as a top four team in the conference. There should be no pressure, other than trying to avoid a season sweep against the Sun Devils.

“Hopefully, we can put this one behind us,” Miller said. “We’ve done it many times this year.”

Miller would have to agree — too many times.

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