TUCSON — The Arizona Wildcats are going to get everyone’s best effort every night and Thursday was no different, as the Oregon Ducks took the Wildcats to the limit. Arizona ultimately snuck out with a 67-65 win, but as 12-point favorites, it wasn’t supposed to be this close.
Playing in place of Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson stepped up and scored 14 points with 10 rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks for Arizona (22-1, 9-1). Nick Johnson led the Wildcats with 18 points, five assists and two steals, but shot just 5-for-16 from the field.
Freshman standout Aaron Gordon had yet another night to forget and it seems like he’s hit a wall. He scored six points with eight rebounds, but shot just 2-for-11 from the free-throw line. If the Wildcats would have found a way to lose, the first blame would fall on Gordon and the free-throw shooting. As a team, the Wildcats shot 19-for-35 (54.3 percent).
Despite a struggling offense that failed to break 70 again, the Wildcat defense stepped up when they needed it most. The Ducks (15-7, 3-7) came in as the No. 7 team in the nation in scoring, averaging 83.8 points per game. The Wildcats made them look ordinary and held them to just 42.6 percent shooting, well below their 47 percent average.
Joseph Young and Jason Calliste scored 14 for Oregon, with Damyean Dotson adding 12 and Dominic Artis scoring 10. The Ducks shot 13-for-20 (65 percent) from the free-throw line and 6-for-17 (35.3) from the 3-point line.
Wildcats by the Numbers
1 — Only one starter shot better than 50 percent (Hollis-Jefferson, 60 percent).
+13 — The Wildcats held a plus-13 advantage in turnovers plus fouls.
134 — Arizona’s national rank in offense, averaging just 73.3 points per game.
He was a Wildcat
The guy that wasn’t supposed to start, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, deserves a ton of credit for his performance on Thursday night. His 14 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal and two blocks were instrumental in making sure the Wildcats didn’t pick up their second loss of the season.
He was a Mildcat
While I appreciate Gordon’s efforts defensively and his attempt to play within himself, he had a pretty terrible game. 2-for-11 from the free-throw line is atrocious and his four fouls and general ineffectiveness caused him to play 27 minutes, the least of any starter.
The Wildcats will play host to Oregon State on Sunday, February 9 from the McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona.