Death. Taxes. Dana Altman teams peaking as March approaches.
The Oregon Ducks (12-4, 7-3) won their third consecutive game Saturday afternoon in a hard-fought 63-61 road win over the Arizona Wildcats (14-7, 8-7).
It's the ninth Ducks victory in the last 11 meetings between the schools.
Chris Duarte shook off a rocky start that included just two first-half points to deliver late, including the game-winning three-pointer with 17 seconds left.
The Pac-12's second-leading scorer finished with 10 points on 4-14 from the field, but he drained his two three-pointers late in the game and showcased the type of closing Oregon will need to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Here were the key takeaways.
Oregon can grind out a game.
Despite a mediocre conference record, the Wildcats are a good basketball team that would likely make the NCAA Tournament if not for sanctions barring them from postseason play this season.
Winning at Arizona is never an easy task even if Oregon has made it an annual tradition in recent years.
Both teams needed to grind out buckets late in the shot clock but it really wasn't as ugly as the final box score indicated. Oregon passed the ball well to get its best players in good positions to score. Frequently, Oregon would work the ball around the perimeter while Eugene Omoruyi got deep post position before an entry pass led to a quick bucket in the paint.
The Ducks big man ended with a team-high 19 points on 7-14 shooting and 2-4 from behind the arc.
Also, when the team needs a bucket, Chris Duarte can create off the dribble. His first three-pointer of the game was a contested, pull-up jumper that appeared similar to clutch shots made by Tyler Dorsey during the Ducks 2017 run to the Final Four.
Oregon's second-half defense left a bit to be desired.
The Ducks held a ten-point advantage in the first half before the Wildcats rebounded to tie the game at 34 heading into the half.
Then, for the first several minutes of the second half, Oregon traded baskets with Arizona as the Wildcats passed for a layup after layup causing Dana Altman to burn a timeout with 14:31 left.
Oregon outrebounded Arizona 38-30 including 12-10 on the offensive glass. Dana Altman cited his team's rebounding effort as a key to the win multiple times during his postgame press conference.
The Next Game
Oregon hosts Colorado on Thursday, February 18th at 8:00 p.m. PT.