Oregon-Arizona Men’s Basketball Game Summary 3-15-24

The Pac 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament semi-finals between the #1 Seed Arizona, fresh off an easy drubbing of USC and #4 Seed Oregon, who had a much tougher challenge against UCLA on Thursday will determine who plays the Washington State-Colorado winner for the last Pac 12 Title for Basketball under its current configuration.

Five Oregon players came off of double-digit scoring efforts in their quarterfinal game against UCLA on Thursday night. N’Faly Dante led the Ducks with 22 points and 6 rebounds as Oregon narrowly defeated the Bruins 68-66. Oregon appeared to conserve energy in their effort against UCLA in the hopes give themselves a better shot at the Wildcats today.

The crowd at T-Mobile Arena clearly skewed about 80/20 in favor of Arizona fans. Betting lines all favored Arizona. Prognosticators don’t give Oregon much of a chance. In the history of the Pac 10/12 tournament, Oregon leads Arizona in head-to-head matchups.

Dante opens the scoring of the game with a Dunk. On the following defensive possession, Dante gets hurt and is carried to the locker room. Mahamadou Diawara and Kwame Evans Jr., no strangers to big minutes when Dante was out earlier in the season, were asked to fill the void. At the first media time out, Oregon kept pace with the Wildcats, leafing 7-5 at the 15:50 mark.

With Dante out Arizona started feeding Oumar Ballo inside and hit 6 of their next 8 shots to pull out to a 18-13 lead with 11:23 left in the half. Oregon was then held scoreless for 4:30 as Arizona extended their lead to 25-13 at the 7:41 mark. The heavy-Arizona crowd and the loss of N’Faly Dante seeming to have a chilling effect on the Duck’s offense.

After loosening up his injury, N’Faly Dante checked back in for Oregon after the media time out. Dante’s presence definitely improved Oregon’s trajectory, however, Arizona still managed to improve on their lead to make it 29-16 Wildcats with 3:47 left in the half. Those points from Arizona were from the Free Throw line as the Wildcats actually scored no field goals in the last 6:52 of the half, ending with a 33-23 lead.

Oregon shot 9 for 27 from the field for 33%, 1-12 from 3 point range for 8% Arizona wasn’t a ton better, shooting 42% from the field and 33% from 3 point range. Each team had 7 turnovers in the first half, however, Arizona managed to score 8 points off those turnovers to Oregon’s 4. Oumar Ballo led all scorers at the half with 11 points, aided by N’Faly Dante’s absence. Dante led Oregon with 8 points and 5 rebounds.

Oregon opened the second half with a lot more energy, pushing the ball up the court on a faster pace and closing the gap to 38-32 with 15:48 left in the game, despite Kwame Evans Jr accidentally tipping in a shot for Arizona. Kario Oquendo made a big steal and a dunk with 15:13 left to pull the Ducks within two at 38-36. Oquendo gave the Ducks a big shot of energy on both ends of the court, keeping the Ducks within 41-40 after two Dante free throws. Jermaine Cousinard subsequently hits a 3 with 12:33 left to give the Ducks a 43-41 lead. Arizona’s Motiejus Krivas gave the Wildcats the lead back with a rebound basket of a Dante block, 44-43 with 10:43 left.

The mostly Arizona crowd began to make their presence known once again, trying to give the Wildcats more energy as Oregon held tough. Jermaine Cousinard began to assert himself and with 7:52 left in the game, Oregon made a 10-0 run and grabbed its largest lead of the game at 53-44. At that point, Oregon had outscored Arizona 30-11 in the second half.

Oregon extended its lead to 12 and once again the crowd tried to rally Arizona. Jackson Shelstad hits a 3 to make the score 61-48. Oquendo gets a foul under the basket with 4:11 left and to add insult to injury, a technical foul is called on the Oregon bench. Arizona hit 4 free throws on the play, pulling the Wildcats within 61-54 at the 4:06 mark.

Fresh off the four point swing, the Arizona faithful bring the noise. Oregon began to slow down the offense to bleed precious seconds off the clock. KJ Lewis knocks N’Faly Dante over for a steal (which should have been called a foul) and feeds Pelle Larsson for a huge 3 to make the game 61-57 with 2:30 left. The teams trade baskets and Oregon called a time out with 1:13 left in the game, leading 63-59.

Arizona had only committed 5 team fouls with 1:09 left and tried to use them to keep the clock from running out. Oregon’s lead remained 63-59 with 31.8 seconds remaining as a loose ball was grabbed by Oquendo after an errant inbounds pass. A lengthy review by the Pac 12 refs ensued and Oregon maintained possession with 32.6 seconds left. Arizona resorted to fouling. Jackson Shelstad knocked down 2 free throws to make the score 65-59. Oregon made a final push and held off Arizona to advance to the Pac 12 title game 67-59.

Oregon’s run continues. The Pac 12 Championship Game is Saturday night at 6pm.