The saying goes that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Thursday night, the Brandon Ashley-less Arizona Wildcats were a little bit of both in an exhilarating, come-from-behind 67-65 win over the Oregon Ducks at the McKale Center.
Despite a woeful shooting night — from the field, three-point range the free-throw line — and so-so performance on the glass, Arizona managed to outlast Oregon in large part due to a late 12-5 run.
Here’s a look back at the two-point win by the numbers:
It wasn’t the prettiest 40-minute exhibition of basketball, but the answer of how Arizona would respond to its first loss was answered. The Wildcats rebounded with a win — one which had plenty of adversity along the way. Dating back to the 1989 season, Arizona has won six straight games directly following a loss as the No. 1 team in the AP poll.
Speaking of adversity, freshman Aaron Gordon’s struggles from the free-throw line might have hit an all-time low against the Ducks. Gordon connected on just 2-of-11 attempts from the charity stripe and finished with six points.
As to who would fill in for the injured Ashley, that answer belonged to freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Making just the third start of his collegiate career, the 6-foot-7 forward out of Chester, Penn. recorded his first double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds) to go along with three assists.
The Wildcats might be the No. 2-ranked team in the nation, but they have not made life easy on themselves in Pac-12 play. Of their nine conference wins, five have come by 10 points or less. Arizona’s last three wins have come by an even slimmer margin, 4.66 points per victory.
Sans Ashley, Miller still kept to his seven-man rotation. With Hollis-Jefferson assuming a role in the starting lineup, freshman Elliott Pitts played a Pac-12 high 12 minutes. Pitts and Gabe York combined for 11 points, 4 rebounds and three assists off the pine.
Through its first 20 games, Arizona was only outrebounded on two occasions. Over its last three contest, Sean Miller’s squad has been outrebounded twice — including Thursday night’s two-point victory. While the Wildcats had at least three players record seven rebounds or more, the Ducks won the battle on the glass by a 40-35 margin.
With the win, Arizona moved to 60 games above .500 (71-11) under Sean Miller at the McKale Center. Thursday’s victory also pushed the team’s home winning streak to 18 games.
Coming into the contest, Arizona was ranked 35th in the country in percentage (57.7) of buckets assisted on. Against Oregon, the leaders of the Pac-12 raised that average up assisting on 68.1 of their 22 made baskets.
Arizona pushed its all-time series lead over Oregon to 46-25. However because the two programs only faced each other once each of the last two seasons, Thursday marked the Wildcats’ first win over the Ducks since March 2011.