Oregon hands Arizona its first loss

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

The Arizona Wildcats ran out of late-game magic Thursday night.
Oregon's Johnathan Loyd ended fourth-ranked Arizona's rally with a steal and a free throw with 9.2 seconds left as the Ducks knocked off one of three undefeated teams in the country, 70-66, in Eugene, Ore. Students stormed the court after the biggest win in two-year-old Matthew Knight Arena.
"We lost to a team that played an exceptional game on their home court," Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
"It's not easy to win every game, and certainly to win on the road in college basketball is difficult. I believe that Oregon is not only one of the best teams in our conference, they are a Top 25 team nationally. We knew we would have to have great performance to win."
The Ducks (13-2, 2-0 Pac-12) won their 17th consecutive home game in Matthew Knight Arena.
E.J. Singler contributed 14 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and four steals to lead Oregon, which had four players score in double figures.
"It is pretty much an indescribable feeling," he said.
"I am so happy that we fought as hard as we did and that we fought all the way until the end. We fought until we got the win. ... We've still got some goals to accomplish. Winning the Pac-12 championship is our largest goal and what we are working for."
Top-ranked Duke and second-ranked Michigan are the last unbeaten teams in the country.
Arizona, which had won three consecutive down-to-the-wire games against San Diego State, Colorado and Utah, trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half. The Wildcats pulled to 48-42 with 15:07 left but got no closer until the final two minutes.
Mark Lyons banked in an off-balance 3-pointer while unsuccessfully trying to draw a foul, cutting the lead to 67-63 with 1:18 left, capping an 11-2 run for Arizona (14-1, 2-1). After Singler made two free throws, Nick Johnson's 3-pointer made it a one-possession game at 69-66.
The Wildcats got a chance to tie the score after Dominic Artis missed a 3-pointer, but Loyd stole the ball from Johnson on the fast break and was fouled. Loyd made one of two free throws with 9.2 seconds left for a 70-66 Oregon lead.
Lyons missed a 3-pointer with a few seconds remaining, and students piled onto the floor as time expired. It was Oregon's second win of the season over a ranked team; the Ducks also won at then-No. 18 UNLV on Nov. 23.
"If January 10th is our high, then our team has underachieved," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "I'll be really disappointed if we don't have bigger wins this season."
Lyons led Arizona with 21 points. Solomon Hill added 16.
The Ducks, who entered the game 10th in the Pac-12 in 3-point shooting at 31.5 percent, made 7 of 11 attempts from behind the arc to keep Arizona at bay. Artis, who entered the game shooting 28.6 percent on 3-pointers, made 3 of 4.
Miller has complained about his team's 3-point defense in recent weeks. The Wildcats have allowed their past three opponents to hit 50 percent (24 of 48) from behind the arc.
"My biggest concern is that we've lost our defense," he said. "I'm telling you, from a defensive perspective, we really struggled. We have to get that back."
Miller made a change in his starting lineup, putting in senior Kevin Parrom at small forward, with the 6-foot-6 Hill moving to power forward, which he played all of last season. Parrom opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, and Hill followed with two consecutive 3-pointers as the Wildcats built an 11-0 lead.
The Ducks quickly responded with a 16-2 run in about a 3 1/2-minute span, taking a 16-13 lead on Artis' fast-break layup.
The lead changed hands six times after that before the break, with the Ducks finishing the half on a 21-5 run.
NOTES: Altman has a 5-2 record against Miller. They first met when Altman was at Creighton and Miller was at Xavier. ... This was the only meeting of the season between the teams; they won't play in Tucson, Ariz., in the Pac-12's unbalanced schedule. ... Fourth-ranked Arizona became the highest-ranked team to play in Matthew Knight Arena, which opened on Jan. 13, 2011. ... Parrom made his first start of the season and 14th of his career. He finished with seven points. ... Oregon's 17-game home winning streak is tied for the seventh longest in the country. ... The attendance of 9.544 was the highest of the season in 11 games at Matthew Knight Arena.

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