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Arizona Basketball Surrenders Halftime Lead To Oregon, Ending Pac-12 Tournament Era On A Disappointing Note

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Arizona’s era of Pac-12 dominance and tournament success came to an unpleasant conclusion on Friday as the Wildcats suffered a 67-59 defeat to Oregon in the semifinals of the conference’s final tournament in its current format.

Oregon’s Jermaine Couisnard led the charge with 20 points and seven assists, supported by Jackson Shelstad’s 19 points and N’Faly Dante’s double-double performance of 12 points and 10 rebounds. Couisnard’s history of standout performances against Arizona continued, with notable displays in previous matchups.

Despite a commendable effort from Oumar Ballo, who contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds, Arizona struggled to maintain their first-half momentum. While shooting 40%, the Wildcats allowed Oregon to shoot 50% in the second half, eroding their early lead.

The defeat dropped Arizona to a 25-8 record, while Oregon (22-11) remains in contention for the Pac-12’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid, pending the outcome of the championship game against the winner of the late semifinal between Colorado and Washington State.

Oregon staged a remarkable comeback, erasing Arizona’s 14-point halftime lead within the first eight minutes of the second half. Despite the Wildcats’ efforts to narrow the gap, the Ducks maintained control, eventually securing a 65-59 lead in the final minute.

A missed shot from Caleb Love forced Arizona to foul Jackson Shelstad, who capitalized on the opportunity by sinking two free throws, extending Oregon’s lead to 65-59. Arizona failed to score on their subsequent possession, allowing Oregon to seal the victory with additional free throws.

Although Arizona had secured victories over Oregon earlier in the season, including an 87-78 win in Eugene and a 103-83 triumph in their home finale, the Wildcats’ recent loss adds to a history of struggles against their Pac-12 rivals.

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