Tonight's game was a back and forth battle, full of runs, but it was a 26-10 Wildcat run which culminated with a Hassan Adams dunk that gave Arizona the lead for good with 3:30 to go. During that run, Oregon had a number of missed layups and turnovers that led to Wildcat baskets.
"Arizona can really feed off turnovers and mistakes," Oregon forward, Luke Jackson said. "That's what they did in the second half. Our mistakes led to a lot of their baskets."
Oregon came back late in the second half, tying the game once at 70 after a clutch James Davis three pointer, but it was not enough. Arizona guard Jason Gardner carried his team through his shooting and on court leadership and powered them through to victory.
"Jason Gardner put the team on his back and played like the competitor he is," Arizona Coach Lute Olson said.
Rebounding was the area where Oregon was hurt the most Thursday night. After trailing only 19-13 on the glass after the first half, the game finished with Arizona topping the Ducks on the boards 50-18. Hassan Adams led 'Zona's rebounding effort with nine, seven of them on the offensive end. Rick Anderson and Dennis Latimore both had eight and Andre Iguodala had seven rebounds.
Robert Johnson, Oregon's leading rebounder for the season grabbed seven rebounds in the first half. He was all over the boards in that period. Then, in the second half, Johnson was held to only two rebounds. He still led the Ducks with his nine boards.
"(Robert) Johnson killed us in the first half, and we did a great job keeping him off of the glass in the second half," Olson said.
Arizona was also much more aggressive in the second half on defense and on the boards, shutting down much of Oregon's game. The Cats defense held Oregon to just 37 percent field goal shooting and 31 points in the final period. Overall the Ducks were held to a 42 percent mark from the floor. They are shooting 48% on the year on field goals.
(Photo right)Oregon's Luke Ridnour, left, shoots a three point shot over Arizona's Salim Stoudamire in the first half in Eugene, Ore., Thursday Jan. 2, 2003. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
Arizona's aggressiveness caused Oregon to get out of their game. The Ducks made a number of turnovers and did not rebound the ball, something Oregon Coach Ernie Kent was not happy about.
"When (Arizona) became the aggressor in the game, we didn't respond," Kent said. "That's where we missed some easy lay ups where we needed to be a little bit tougher. Boxing out, we need to be a little bit tougher."
Leading the scoring for Arizona was Jason Gardner who had 21 points in 38 minutes. Rick Anderson had 15 points and Hassan Adams and Isaiah Fox both had 12.
Oregon's leading scorer was Luke Jackson who had 20 points on 8-20 shooting. Luke Ridnour had 16 points. Robert Johnson had nine of his 11 in the first half, and Andre Joseph also added 11 points off the bench.
One of Oregon's highlights of the night came early in the second half. Arizona's Jason Gardner flew down the court on a fast break for an uncontested layup. Andre Joseph had different plans however. He took off from the Oregon end of the floor and rejected Gardner's layup into the third row bringing the capacity Mac Court crowd to its feet.
Oregon will face the Sun Devils on Saturday at 6:00 at McArthur Court. Curtis Millage will bring ASU into Eugene looking for the sweep of the Oregon teams. Millage led the Sun Devils with 16 points against OSU.
"We need to make plays and get rebounds," Ridnour pointed out as the two things necessary for Oregon the beat Arizona State on Saturday