Oregon proves its mettle with big win

Losing by 30-points on the road to Oregon was bad enough, but 13 days later, it somehow managed to get even worse for Arizona as the Ducks destroyed the Cats once again, 90-80. It was not that close.

If Oregon is not in the AP or ESPN poll when they are released later this weekend, it might be as big of a Greek tragedy as the Duck football team being left out of the Rose Bowl.

Oregon is for real.

Oregon is really good.

With the way the Ducks are playing, the number of teams that could beat them right now could be countable on one hand.

Duke? Probably.

Kansas? You'd have to say the Jayhawks would win.

Who else though? Right now, maybe no one else.

Bob Elliott may have said it best tonight when he said, "There's hot and then there's whatever Oregon is right now."

Here's what happened in tonight's Tucson version of the Oregon Blowout series, which is coming soon to a town near you.

The Ducks came out shooting just how they did in Eugene, but this time they were led by point guard Luke Ridnour instead of forward Luke Jackson. The rest of the game was pretty much the same as the beginning--Oregon never cooled off and Arizona never got hot.

Ridnour, a sophomore who was a McDonald's All-American out of high school, played as well as any point guard has played in McKale Center since Jason Kidd's days at Cal in the mid-90's. Ridnour personified Oregon's lights-out shooting night as he made six three-pointers en route to a game-high 24 points.

Say hello to the Pac-10's premier point guard, Luke Ridnour.

With him leading the way, Oregon jumped out to an early lead and extended it to 49-38 at halftime. And that was after Arizona went on a run to keep it from getting out of hand.

Just like it did in Eugene, the Ducks came out hot from three-point land and hit five of eight tries by halftime led by Ridnour, who connected on all four of his long distance shots.

What Arizona needs is Luke Walton back and on the double. Without the playmaking Walton, the Wildcat offense was stagnant and ball movement--something Arizona basketball is predicated upon--was nonexistent. There is little doubt here as to who the real MVP of Arizona is. He was the guy with floppy hair in street clothes sitting on the bench.

The good news is that Walton isn't expected to miss an extended amount of time and he could be back by next weekend's games up in Washington. Other than that, the good news for the Wildcats in tonight's game was limited to the following:

*Salim Stoudamire continued his hot shooting with four more three-pointers in seven attempts and he scored 16 points.

*Will Bynum played a lot better and produced 15 points of his own with his aggressive play from the perimeter.

*Jason Gardner is still really fast.

That's it.

Oregon has now beaten Arizona twice by an average of 20 points this year and unless the two teams meet again in the Pac-10 tournament, Arizona is going to have to wait another year to get retribution for the humiliation.

With Luke Walton back in the lineup and the continual development of Arizona's five freshmen, there is no reason for anyone to panic. The Wildcats will still be much better a month from now and especially by March.

As for now, however, Oregon is better in every area and has dominated Arizona twice in ways once reserved for Wildcat opponents.

Oregon has arrived and it is not going away.

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