If it were up to coach Sean Miller, the Arizona Wildcats wouldn't even need an alarm clock anymore.

The regular season is more than halfway over, after all. And that embarrassing exhibition loss to Division II Seattle Pacific was nearly three months ago.

But Saturday, in a 59-57 loss to Oregon at McKale Center, the Wildcats kept figuratively whacking the poor thing like they have so many times this season until it was too late.

"Those days of lessons learned - that was Seattle Pacific," Miller said. "The freshmen right now aren't freshmen. We're in the middle of January. We've played 18 games. The older guys have been through the wars several times."

It was only after 22-plus minutes Saturday, with UA trailing by 17 points, that Solomon Hill finally rose up and pretty much tried to win the game all by himself.

Hill scored 14 points over seven minutes early in the second half, and UA went on to completely erase a halftime deficit of 12 points and the 17-point disadvantage early in the second half.

It just wasn't enough, with UA missing four shots in the final 37 seconds of what became a two-point game.

"I'm just tired of getting beaten in my own gym," Hill said. "They beat us in every aspect of the game. I just got tired of it. I tried to make plays, just go out there and play basketball."

Hill has actually been a part of only three UA home losses this season, including the Seattle Pacific game, and the Wildcats were undefeated at home last season. The last time they lost a Pac-12 game at home was Feb. 21, 2010, when ASU beat UA 73-69.

"It's a funny feeling losing here in a conference game," Hill said. "Like Coach said, we don't deserve to win. You can't just come out and expect to beat a team in the second half. It's a 40-minute game."

Arizona's loss could prove costly in the race for Pac-12 contention and an NCAA tournament bid. The Wildcats dropped to 12-6 overall and 3-2 in the Pac-12 while Oregon improved to 13-5 and 4-2.

But while Hill's heroics helped pull the Wildcats back into the game, they could not close the deal as they also could not in failed comeback tries against Gonzaga, San Diego State, Mississippi State and, yes, Seattle Pacific.

This time, it came down to the fact that the Wildcats had a shot blocked and missed two others on their final possession that would have won or tied the game.

While Miller addressed the Wildcats' final offensive plays after the game, saying he was content with the missed shots taken by Brendon Lavender and Kyle Fogg, that wasn't where his focus was.

It was on a first half that was one of Arizona's worst of the season: The Wildcats committed 10 turnovers, were out-rebounded 16-11 and allowed the Ducks to shoot 48.3 percent from the field before halftime.

"I'm very disappointed in our team," Miller said. "We are not the most talented Arizona team. We're certainly not the biggest Arizona team. But what we can control is collective effort and for 20 minutes we picked and choosed how hard we were going to play.

"The game was too physical for us. If you look at the rebounding numbers for the first 20 minutes, we were overwhelmed. It was men against boys."

Oregon picked up where it left off early in the second half, expanding a 34-22 halftime lead to 41-24 with 17:33 left to play.

But Hill's personal 14-point spurt early in the second half cut Oregon's lead to 47-40, and the rest of the Wildcats kept going. Arizona tied the game at 54 when guard Josiah Turner stole the ball and dunked it with 3:25 left.

Nick Johnson then gave UA a brief 56-54 lead when he hit a pair of free throws with 2:59 left, after he had picked up a ball that Oregon's Garrett Sim turned over and was fouled on his ensuing drive downcourt. But the final minutes were nothing but frustration for Arizona, even as Sim and the Ducks left the window of opportunity open.

The first of the four final UA shots was particularly frustrating for Miller: Turner, who played a season-high 29 minutes, missed wildly on a three-point attempt with 37 seconds left and Oregon leading 59-57.

"Josiah, we really wanted him to drive and he decided to shoot it," Miller said, "and he shot an airball."

Sim, however, missed the front end of a one-and-one with 29 seconds left, giving the Wildcats plenty of time to tie or win the game.

Sim redeemed himself by blocking Arizona's first shot, a three-pointer by Nick Johnson. Subsequent UA shots by Lavender (a three-pointer) and Fogg (a 12-footer) missed.

Arizona had gained momentum, but no magic at the end.

"I think that's the problem," Johnson said. "We waited for something to happen instead of actually going to do it. That's why in the first half we got off to another slow start. So that's what we got to do down the road - not wait for something to happen. We gotta do it ourselves."

Up next

• Who: Arizona at Utah

• When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

• TV: Ch 58, FSAZ