N'Faly Dante, Oregon beat up No. 9 Arizona for huge victory
N’Faly Dante beat the snot out of Arizona. That’s the technical term for what the crowd at Matthew Knight Arena witnessed Saturday when the ninth-ranked Wildcats came to town.
Just two nights removed from losing to Arizona State by 17 points — a game the Ducks trailed in by as many as 29 points — Oregon blasted the defending Pac-12 champion Arizona Wildcats 87-68.
Dante was exceptional in the win. The burly center for the Ducks provided 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, 10 rebounds, three steals, and two blocked shots. He was whistled for just one personal foul in 31 minutes.
And Dante set the tone some 45 seconds into the game with a thunderous sequence. He slammed home a dunk for Oregon’s first bucket, then picked off an ill-advised pass from Arizona at halfcourt, took it himself, and put Wildcat guard Kerr Kriisa on a poster.
N’FALY DANTE OH MY 😨😨
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) January 14, 2023
Oregon guard Jermaine Couisnard was also magnificent for the Ducks. Playing in just his fourth game of the season, the former South Carolina transfer was unconscious from 3-point range. He splashed home six of his nine 3s to put up a game-high 27 points.
Couisnard had explosive scoring performances at his previous school, and his outburst helped ease things for everyone else in the rotation. Will Richardson supplied 14 points and five assists. Nate Bittle added 10 points and a pair of triples. Keeshawn Barthelemy had five points off the bench.
Oregon took away Arizona’s bigs and forced the Wildcat guards to try and shoot them back into the game.
They turned in a dreadful performance. Courtney Ramey had 12 points on 12 shots. Kriisa was limited to nine points on 10 shots — including a 2-of-9 showing from 3. Pelle Larsson had just four points and only took two shots in 27 minutes.
Freshman Kylan Boswell led the Wildcats in scoring with 15 points off the bench.
After opening the season with six straight games shooting north of 50%, the Wildcats have been above 40% just once in their last five outings. Oumar Ballo and Azuolas Tubelis combined for 24 points on 23 shots as the UA struggled to shoot with any consistency inside the 3-point line.
Dante probably had something to do with that. He was a menace around the rim, and took Ballo to task late in the game on the offensive end of the floor multiple times.
It will go down as the best win to date for this 2022-23 Oregon squad and actually tied UO with Arizona in the conference standings. The Ducks (10-8, 4-3 Pac-12) have now won six straight games over the Wildcats in Eugene.
Oregon returns to the court next Wednesday when it heads to Berkeley to take on Cal at 7 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Network.
Though it wasn’t expected to replicate the season it had in Tommy Lloyd’s first year on the bench, Arizona (15-3, 4-3 Pac-12) has opened up conference play in surprisingly shaky fashion. The Wildcats now have more league losses through seven games than they did during the entire 20-game slate last year. They’ll head home to host USC next Thursday at 6 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Network.