The "little run" that Johnathan Loyd predicted has gotten big.
Oregon finished the regular season with its seventh straight victory by defeating No. 3 Arizona, 64-57, Saturday afternoon in front of 12,364 at Matthew Knight Arena.
After losing eight of 10 games in the middle of the season, Oregon started its late-season push with a 93-83 victory over Oregon State on Feb. 16. Afterward, Loyd predicted "this little run that we are going to go on".
"This is exactly what I envisioned," Loyd said after scoring 16 points on Saturday. "I don't want to say 'I told you so,' but I did."
The Ducks began planning their comeback after a 74-72 loss at Arizona State that sent them to 3-8 in the conference, and that remains their last defeat.
"We were in the locker room saying we had to win the next seven games to turn the season around," senior forward Mike Moser said. "That was the goal, and I'm glad we got it done."
The Ducks don't plan to end their run yet, with a trip to the Pac-12 tournament beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday against Oregon State. Oregon finished in a five-way tie for third place in the conference at 10-8 but earned the No. 7 seed and a third meeting with the 10th-seeded Beavers.
"It's not time to go home yet, (because) there is still work to be done," said senior Jason Calliste, who scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half.
Oregon might have secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament by closing out the regular season at 22-8 with the victory over the Wildcats, but the Ducks are focused first on defending their Pac-12 tournament title.
"I don't know, I'm not going to worry about all that," Oregon coach Dana Altman said when asked if he thought his team earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament "We have to go to the conference tournament. If you start thinking about stuff like that, you lose your focus."
Moser, whose 10 points and 10 rebounds made him the first Duck to have four consecutive double-doubles since Maarty Leunen in 2006-07, said Oregon's focus has not changed as its outlook has improved.
"I think we are still a desperate team," he said. "That doesn't go away even after the last few wins. You'll see the same desperation next week."
The Ducks finished off the regular season by outscoring Arizona 22-9 during the final 8 minutes after the Wildcats took a 48-42 lead.
"We did not get key rebounds at Arizona, and here we did and they did not get second-chance points," Loyd said. "It felt good to do the tough things down the stretch."
Calliste and Joseph Young made back-to-back three-pointers to get the Ducks within 50-48 with 5:50 to play, and then Loyd tied the score with a lay-up. After Aaron Gordon hit a free throw for Arizona, Calliste converted a three-point play to give the Ducks a 53-51 lead.
Calliste and Loyd followed with back-to-back three-pointers that put the Ducks ahead 59-51 with 2:37 to play.
"Guys hit big shots," Altman said. "Jason was unbelievable; he stepped up and really hit big shots. Mike hit a couple to get us going and Johnny, it was our seniors."
Gordon converted a three-point play to get the Wildcats within 61-57, but Ben Carter blocked Nick Johnson's shot on Arizona's next possession, and Calliste added two free throws with 28.9 seconds remaining as the sellout crowd prepared to rush the court.
"Oregon certainly had a great setup today," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "A fantastic crowd, and you're catching them on senior night with quite a few seniors playing their last home game and obviously playing for the NCAA Tournament. They were a highly motivated group, and with that I thought we had to be at our best and we weren't."
Gordon led the Wildcats with 21 points and eight rebounds, but Arizona shot just 9-for-36 in the second half to finish at 42.3 percent for the game. Arizona outrebounded the Ducks 21-13 in the first half before Oregon had 22 rebounds in the second half compared with 14 for the Wildcats.
Arizona was ranked No. 1 in the country for much of the season, and the Ducks' finishing kick has them once again feeling like the team that was ranked No. 10 after a 13-0 start.
"We can be one of the best teams in the country, too," Calliste said. "It doesn't matter who you're playing. It doesn't matter the name on your chest, you just go out and play."
For a slideshow from Saturday's game, click here
For a boxscore, click here