Battle-tested No. 24 Arizona visits Oregon St.

NCAA Basketball
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No. 24 Arizona will try to regroup for Sunday night’s game at Oregon State in Corvallis.

Arizona led most of the way against No. 9 Oregon on Thursday night and was up six points with less than two minutes to go, but the Wildcats committed two turnovers, missed the front end of a one-and-one and failed to convert a last-second jumper as the Ducks forced overtime.

Oregon prevailed 74-73, capping the win with a steal on an inbound play with about two seconds to go.

Arizona (11-4, 1-1 Pac-12) has suffered three losses to teams in the current top 10, including No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 4 Baylor.

“I was really proud of their effort,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said after Thursday night’s loss. “It was a great game playing in this environment and playing against Oregon. To beat a good team, you have to play really well to put yourself in a position to win, and we certainly did that.”

Oregon State (11-4, 1-2) also is looking to bounce back following an 82-76 home loss to Arizona State on Thursday night. That was a disappointing result after the Beavers stormed back to beat Colorado 76-68 last Sunday at one of the toughest venues in the Pac-12.

The loss dropped Oregon State’s home record to 7-1, and coach Wayne Tinkle put the blame on his team’s defense. Arizona State made 29 of 60 shots from the field, including eight of 16 from 3-point range.

“We have got to get a lot better defensively,” Tinkle said. “On the ball, off the ball, at the rim, for whatever reason, all the things that we’ve worked on, we’re just too inconsistent with it. …

“We have to find a way to make sure we’re hellfire and brimstone coming out of the locker room.”

Arizona is led by a trio of freshmen — post Zeke Nnaji (16.2 points, 8.5 rebounds per game), point guard Nico Mannion (14.7 ppg., 6.1 assists) and wing Josh Green (13.3 ppg.). Green had one of his best all-around games of the season on Thursday night with 17 points on seven-of-11 shooting.

“We have a lot of young guys that played their hearts out, but we still came up short,” said senior guard Dylan Smith. “We have to regroup and go to work.”

Arizona starting senior center Chase Jeter sat for most of the second half against a physical Oregon front line, with Cornell grad transfer power forward Stone Gettings often playing next to Nnaji. It might be a repeat on Sunday, with Jeter potentially having trouble against Oregon State 7-footer Kylor Kelley, who leads the country with 4.27 blocks per game.

Kelly averages 11.1 points, but the Beavers are often a two-man show on offense.

Senior forward Tres Tinkle is one of the great stat-stuffers in college basketball, averaging 19.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals. He is shooting 46.5 percent from 3-point distance and was one of 25 players selected to the midseason watch list for the Wooden Award, given to the game’s top player.

Guard Ethan Thompson is at 16.7 points and 4.5 assists per game. He scored at least 22 in three of the past four games.

Arizona swept the two-game series last season, winning 74-72 in Corvallis on a buzzer-beating put-back by Devonaire Doutrive.

–Field Level Media

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