No. 14 Oregon rallies to beat No. 24 Arizona 73-72 in OT
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Oregon’s Payton Pritchard had one of the best games of his college career, hitting a handful of jaw-dropping 3-pointers that silenced Arizona’s crowd. But after more than 40 minutes on the court, the shots finally stopped falling.
The Ducks found a second scorer just in time.
Pritchard scored a career-high 38 points and Shakur Juiston added all of Oregon’s points in overtime to push the 14th-ranked Ducks past No. 24 Arizona 73-72 on Saturday night.
The 6-foot-2 Pritchard made six 3-pointers and hit 8 of 8 free throws. He played all 45 minutes and was the only player on either team who never came out of the game. Even though he has nearly 1,900 career points, it was the first time the senior has scored 30 or more in a game.
“It was a heck of a performance,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “We’ve been struggling a little, we’re banged up and in a game we really needed him, he did a tremendous job.”
Juiston was the unlikely star in overtime and his layup with 1.4 seconds left was the winner. Arizona had one more great opportunity but Christian Koloko missed two free throws with a second left that could have tied or won the game.
Oregon has won five straight overtime games.
“You’ve got to consider yourself a little lucky when you win five overtime games because you need some breaks like we got today,” Altman said.
Arizona led 64-58 with 3:27 left in regulation but the Wildcats went cold and Pritchard hit six straight free throws to pull the Ducks (21-7, 10-5 Pac-12) even with 15 seconds left. Arizona’s Josh Green missed two free throws with 2.5 seconds remaining that would have put the Wildcats ahead.
Dylan Smith led Arizona (19-8, 9-5) with 18 points. Zeke Nnaji and Nico Mannion both scored 13. The Wildcats had a rough night at the free throw line, making just 10 of 21 and missing the four crucial ones by Green and Koloko.
“You’ve got to make free throws, especially when a guy like Payton Pritchard is playing against you,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “Because he’s not going to miss a free throw.”
Oregon didn’t mind the good fortune of Arizona’s free-throw problems.
“Might as well go play the lottery now,” Juiston said.
Oregon’s offense revolved around the great shooting of Pritchard. He gave the Ducks a huge boost by making several difficult 3-pointers, shooting over Arizona defenders who were right in his face.
“I didn’t even notice when I had points,” Pritchard said. “I just kept trying to make plays.”
The rest of the team didn’t have a particularly good night until Juiston’s clutch play in the final minutes. Oregon snapped a three-game road losing streak. Juiston finished with 14 points and hit 4 of 5 shots in overtime.
Pritchard scored 20 points in the first half as Oregon pushed to a 36-33 halftime lead. He hit 7 of 11 shots — including 4 of 8 from behind the 3-point line — before the break. Nnaji had eight points and five rebounds for the Wildcats in the first half.
It’s a tight race in the Pac-12 heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. Arizona and Oregon are right in the middle of it.
The Wildcats and Ducks are two of five teams within one game of the top of the standings. Arizona State is in first place at 10-4. Oregon, UCLA and Colorado are right behind at 10-5 and Arizona’s at 9-5.
“It’s a mess,” Altman said. “We’ve dropped some games we felt like we should have won, but I think everybody in the league probably does.”
Oregon: The Ducks were competitive on the road and finally broke through with a big win. Oregon’s offense was stagnant outside of Pritchard and too many possessions consisted of four players watching the senior guard try to work his shot-making magic. Juiston’s overtime scoring was sorely needed.
Arizona: The Wildcats are playing well at the right time of the year but this one stings. Their newfound confidence will get a big test when they head to California and face USC and UCLA next week.
Oregon: Hosts Oregon State on Thursday night.
Arizona: At Southern California in Thursday night.
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