Oregon drops 77-74 heartbreaker

Eugene, Ore. – It was a game of runs but unfortunately for the Oregon Ducks (20-5, 8-5) the last run was just a bit short as Arizona (17-7, 8-5) came away with a 77-74 win at hostile McArthur Court on the campus of the University of Oregon. Wildcat freshman Chase Budinger had his best game in his young career by scoring 30 points and hauling down 10 rebounds.

"This ended up being a great college basketball game," said Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent. "It was a game of runs back and forth. Unfortunately, they made the last shot that they had and we did not get an opportunity to make ours. We had plenty of chances to stop it from coming down to that last shot tonight."

Chase Budinger, a much different player today than he was the last time Oregon faced the Wildcats in Tucson on January 14th when the Ducks won 79-77. In that game he was held to four points and three rebounds but he found his stride in Eugene. Kent thought Budinger was feeling the growth pains of a true freshman in Tucson in January. On Saturday Budinger was much more assertive.

"He was a lot more aggressive than when we played them last time," remarked Malik Hairston of Budinger. "I think our transition defense broke down a lot and (Arizona) got open looks. He (Budinger stepped up and helped his team."

The Ducks actually led at halftime, 38-28, but the Wildcats came out hot in the second half and as the game tilted toward the final five minutes, Arizona went on an 18-2 run that put them out ahead 73-66. Hairston stopped the bleeding for the Ducks with a 3-point shot with 1:42 left on the game clock and from that point the game demonstrated just how competitive the Pac-10 is this season.

The Ducks went on an eight-point run of their own including a dramatic 3-pointer from the side by Tajuan Porter with 22 seconds left on the clock. Just as a timeout sounded the attention of the arena was focused onto the sideline where Kent lay on the floor in agony. Kent explained later that despite what many may have thought an official did not run into him but rather by moving his arms, he may have tore his left rotator. He was not exactly sure, as the pain at the moment of the injury was very intense. Kent will have a MRI on Monday to determine the exact nature of his injury.

When time resumed, Arizona had the ball and Ivan Radenovic hit a jumper with six seconds left to put the Wildcats up by one, 75-74.

"That was probably the only shot that actually won the game," Radenovic said of his last shot. "In this kind of game where we were down and came back, it's a big win for us."

Still with six seconds the Ducks had an opportunity but that was squandered away when Aaron Brooks was called for a charge. Kent would only say that play was not the reason for the defeat, that the Ducks had other opportunities and that a break down of defense that allowed wide open shots for Arizona was more likely the real culprit for the Ducks' demise.

"Aaron Brooks has had a couple of tough games recently," Kent said of his star senior. "He has been playing at such a high level recently and he will get back to that level."

The Wildcats were able to convert two free throws after Brooks charge and even with two seconds showing on the game clock gave Oregon one final desperate chance, it went away when Arizona stole the ball from Tajuan Porter near the mid-court line.

Two other Wildcats finished in double-figure scoring. Marcus Williams had 16 along with Radenovic's 16. For the game Arizona shot 44.9 percent on 31-of-69 shooting including 6-of-17 in 3-point shots. The Wildcats ended up with 45 rebounds compared to Oregon's 33.

Bryce Taylor was the Ducks leading scorer with 18 points followed by Maarty Leunen's 17. Hairston finished with 13 while Porter had 12. Brooks six points but was the Ducks' leading rebounder with 10.

For the game Oregon shot 41.2 percent on 28-of-28 including 11-of-32 in 3-point attempts.

The Ducks now must find a way to recapture Brooks' shooting touch as they will travel to the Bay Area next week to take on California and Stanford. Thursday's Cal game will start at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday the Ducks and Cardinal will tipoff at 5 p.m. on a game that will be televised on the Oregon Sports Network.

Official Box Score from www.goducks.com.

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