LAS VEGAS — Despite being a lower seed and having a lower ranking, Arizona seemed to be the safe bet Friday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The Wildcats were the perennial powerhouse that was finally healthy, the team that had drawn enough fans to Las Vegas that they were calling the arena “McKale North.”
And after trailing for 39 minutes, 59 seconds, Mark Tollefsen — who had made 83 percent of the 36 free throw attempts he has had this season — made only one of two. It ensured the Wildcats an overtime but not a victory.
And that would be the closest Arizona would get to another Pac-12 title, as Oregon advanced after winning in overtime, 95-89.
Oregon put the country on notice with a balanced offensive attack. The Ducks hit 53 percent of their 3-point attempts to keep the Wildcats spread out, then showed no fear in attacking the Wildcats’ interior and their 7-footer, Kaleb Tarczewski, finishing with 40 points in the paint.
Ducks show mixed result at charity stripe: In regulation, the Ducks shot an abysmal 9-of-20 from the free throw line (including a 6-of-16 showing in the second half), their worst free throw percentage of the season by far. But in overtime, with the Ducks in the double bonus and the game on the line, their free throws changed course and Oregon made 12 of its 16 attempts to seal the victory and a spot in the title game.
Capitalizing on mistakes: The Ducks forced 15 turnovers and managed to convert those into 24 points. On the other end of the floor, Oregon — which averaged 11.8 turnovers per game this season — took care of the ball, turning it over only eight times.
Block party: The Ducks registered 11 blocks. It was only the third time this season that Oregon totaled double digits. Sophomore forward Jordan Bell led the Ducks with four and senior forward Chris Boucher had three.
Oregon forward Dwayne Benjamin responds: The senior left the game in the second half after a nasty tumble while driving the lane. He went to the locker room with a team trainer and returned to the bench in his warm-ups and no visible brace. But the senior returned for overtime, where he hit a huge 3-pointer to put the Ducks in front of the Wildcats by three points.