Arizona has assured itself of at least a share of its first regular-season Pac-10 championship since 2004-05.
Claiming the title outright is next on the agenda.
On the verge of going undefeated at home for the first time since 1998-99, No. 18 Arizona will look to close the regular season with a sixth straight win over Oregon on Saturday.
After suffering back-to-back losses for the first time all season, the Wildcats (24-6, 13-4) bounced back with a 70-59 win over Oregon State on Thursday night to guarantee themselves a share of the conference crown.
“We want to win the title outright,” coach Sean Miller said. “We don’t want to share it with anyone else.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the Wildcats, though. Arizona fell 65-57 at Southern California on Feb. 24 and shot a season-worst 31.5 percent en route to its lowest scoring output of the season in a 71-49 defeat at UCLA last Saturday.
“I’d say we all came together and had a common goal to go undefeated at home and win a Pac-10 title,” senior forward Jamelle Horne said. “We went to UCLA and USC and we didn’t give it our all. (Thursday), we played really hard. It wasn’t pretty, but we fought through it.”
Forward Derrick Williams, second in the conference with 19.0 points per game, had 15 and 12 rebounds while fellow sophomore Lamont Jones scored 17 to help Arizona improve to 16-0 at home.
It’s been 13 seasons since the Wildcats went unbeaten at home, and with a lot riding on the season finale, Miller just wants his team to focus on beating the Ducks (14-15, 7-10).
“The opportunity to play for the outright championship on Saturday is very exciting,” he said. “We just have to make sure we don’t make the game any bigger than it is. We just have to do what we know to do to be successful.”
Arizona has won five straight against Oregon by an average of 14.2 points, including a 76-57 road victory Dec. 30 as sophomore Kevin Parrom made a career-best four 3-pointers and scored 20.
The Ducks are on a three-game losing streak after falling 73-53 at Arizona State on Thursday night. Leading scorer Joevan Catron was held to five points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Catron, averaging 14.8 points, has scored 13 on 21.1 percent shooting in his last two games. The senior forward was limited to nine points Dec. 30 against Arizona.
Senior guard Jay-R Strowbridge scored 17 points against the Sun Devils. He’s averaging that figure over the last four games after scoring 9.0 over the first 25.
Oregon is giving up 80.7 points and allowing teams to shoot 53.8 percent during its skid. Arizona ranks second in the league with 76.4 points per game and is 12-0 when scoring at least 80.
The Ducks had lost 15 of 16 versus Top 25 opponents before defeating then-No. 20 Washington 81-76 on Feb. 5 behind Catron’s 20 points and nine boards.
Oregon has lost two straight at the McKale Center since posting wins over ranked Arizona teams in 2007 and ’08.
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