LOS ANGELES (AP)—Oregon coach Ernie Kent received a pleasant surprise Thursday. The tight game he expected with Arizona didn’t happen.
Tajuan Porter and Aaron Brooks burned Arizona with their long-range shooting, combining for nine 3-pointers, and the 16th-ranked Ducks beat the Wildcats 69-50 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament.
“The last four games we’ve played them have come down to the last two minutes,” Kent said. “I thought this would be another of those games.”
The teams split their last four games, with Oregon winning by five and three points and Arizona winning by two points twice.
“I thought for us it was the best defensive performance in 10 years against Arizona,” Kent said after Oregon’s third win over the Wildcats in the last 11 games between the teams. “We put together a game plan, and my hat is off to these guys because they executed it perfectly.”
Oregon will meet California in Friday night’s semifinals at Staples Center. The eighth-seeded Golden Bears upset top-seeded UCLA 76-69 in overtime later Thursday behind Ayinde Ubaka’s career-high 29 points.
Porter, a 5-foot-6 freshman, shot 8-of-12 including 5-of-6 from 3-point range for 21 points. He has made a Pac-10 freshman-record 87 3-pointers this season.
Brooks, the Ducks’ leading scorer, had all 16 of his points in the first 13 minutes to help put Oregon ahead for good. He shot 6-of-13 including 4-of-8 from outside the arc.
“It was our skill and quickness against their skill and quickness, and today we were a little bit better shooting the ball,” Kent said.
That’s for sure. The Ducks shot 26-of-56 including 11-of-20 from 3-point range, while the Wildcats went 21-of-60 including 3-of-16 from beyond the arc.
“Arizona’s definitely a tough team, but I also understand the capabilities of this basketball team when we’re playing at our best,” said Oregon’s Malik Hairston, who had nine points and 10 rebounds.
The fourth-seeded Ducks (24-7) have won five straight, prompting Kent to say they’re peaking at the right time.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Wildcats, who have won at least 20 games in 20 consecutive seasons but struggled at times while playing one of the nation’s toughest schedules this year. Nevertheless, they’re expected to be invited to their 23rd straight NCAA tournament.
Arizona (20-10) was seeded fifth—its lowest in the 10-year history of the Pac-10 tournament.
“There’s no question of who played the hardest, smartest and most competitively,” said Lute Olson, in his 24th season as the Arizona coach. “It starts out front with Aaron Brooks, but Tajuan Porter knocked down shots, too. They’re a problem to defend.”
Jordan Hill led Arizona with 15 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Marcus Williams added 13 points and freshman Chase Budinger had 10 for the Wildcats, whose 50 points were their fewest since Dec. 18, 2004 when they beat Marquette 48-43.
“Nobody had rhythm. It was contagious,” said Budinger, who shot 4-of-11. “It seems like when one is shooting bad, it goes on to the next one.
“They came out wanting it more. They came out tougher than us.”
Three-pointers by Porter and Maarty Leunen gave Oregon a 46-31 lead before Arizona’s Ivan Radenovic made his first two baskets of the game. But freshman Joevan Catron and Porter scored six points each during a 12-2 run that put the Ducks on top 58-37 with 9:41 remaining.
Williams scored five points around two free throws by Radenovic to cut Oregon’s lead to 60-46 with 5 1/2 minutes left, but that’s as close as the Wildcats would get.
Brooks made four 3-pointers in five attempts and added a pair of baskets from inside the arc as Oregon took a 24-16 lead in the opening 13 minutes. Hill scored five straight points to move Arizona within three, but the Ducks outscored the Wildcats 10-2 to finish the first half with a 34-23 lead.
Radenovic and Shakur, a pair of seniors averaging in double figures, were both scoreless at that stage, missing six shots between them.
Radenovic, coming off a career-high 37-point performance in the Wildcats’ 85-80 overtime victory at Stanford, finished with six points, eight rebounds and six assists. Shakur scored two points. They combined to make only 3 of 13 shots.
“We played physical with him,” Hairston said regarding Oregon’s defense against Radenovic. “We have a defense that we continue to rotate and front the post, and we were just very active and very physical with him.”