EUGENE, OR - History shows that when Oregon men's basketball and Arizona clash, the game usually does not lack entertainment. It was the same case on Thursday night at Matthew Knight Arena as the No. 9 Ducks opened up their 2020 Pac-12 conference home-opener hosting the No. 24 Wildcats.
With under two minutes to go in regulation, Oregon senior guard Payton Pritchard and sophomore Will Richardson took over on both ends of the court by sinking clutch free throws and grabbing crucial rebounds. With the game clock at 00:00, it was all tied up 66-66.
It was a game that needed overtime to claim a victor.
Richardson remained calm and confident throughout overtime, recording seven of the Ducks' eight points to send the Wildcats packing. Oregon (13-3, 2-1 Pac-12) defeated Arizona (11-4, 1-1 Pac-12) 74-73.
The 6-foot-5, 180-pound sophomore ended his night dropping a career-high 21 points, added five rebounds and four assists and one game-sealing block with 10 seconds left on the game clock.
He's been pretty good all year for us. He was a little more aggressive tonight. But, Will, if you track his year, he's been as consistent as anybody for us. Shooting percentages are very good; in fact, 7-for-16 is below his average. He's been really good. Defensively he's been pretty solid… Will's been, phew, invaluable to our team this year. - Dana Altman
Not bad for a player coming off the bench. While some may take a hit in pride coming off the bench, Richardson has the reverse feeling.
"I actually like it," Richardson said with a smirk following the game.
I've been in the gym a lot, but I give it to the coaches. They tell me every day like I'm a big part of the team. I don't even think about coming off the bench as something bad. They just tell me to stay active and just be ready when I get into the game because I'm a big part of the team. It just really boosts my confidence knowing that they really need me on this team. - Will Richardson
Both Richardson and Pritchard were flirting with a triple-double watch with Pritchard recording 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Richardson's exponential growth in his second year in Altman's system continues to be an x-factor for the Ducks. Make no mistake, he may be young, but Richardson will never be afraid of the moment.
UP NEXT: The Ducks will host the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (PT) at Matthew Knight Arena.
A performance that literally took Oregon Coach Dana Altmans breath away originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest