Compiling just 33 passing yards for the entire game, Oregon got rolled by Stanford as QB Justin Herbert sat out another game with a broken collarbone.
Compiling just 33 passing yards for the entire game, Oregon got rolled by Stanford as QB Justin Herbert sat out another game with a broken collarbone.
How Oregon won: It was a tale of two halves for the Ducks vs. the Arizona State Sun Devils. This one could have got out of hand quickly as Oregon quickly fell into a 26% from the field and 1-7 from three-point range slump in the first quarter. But the No. 8 Oregon Ducks caught heat and finally get a win in Tempe, AZ 57-44 over the Sun Devils.
Just eight points and gave up five ASU offensive rebounds in the first quarter for Oregon. If it weren’t for the Sun Devils also poor shooting percentage, zero second-chance points, and seven first-half turnovers, Oregon most likely would have been in a bigger hole heading into halftime, but down 25-24.
Oregon coach Kelly Graves must have gave one heck of a pep-talk to his team coming out of halftime. Sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu started the third quarter off with a steal, layup, block, steal, and assist. Ionescu’s vision was insane in the second half as she was finding her counterpart sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard rolling to the basket and getting back to the high-low game the Ducks have so mastered this year.
Oregon went on an 13-2 run in the closing five minutes of the third quarter to take a 44-33 at the start of the fourth quarter.
The one point deficit turned into a double-digit victory for Oregon.
What it means: With this win, the Ducks have secured at least a share of the Pac-12 title crown heading into one final road game and then the Pac-12 tournament in Seattle, WA the following weekend. Depending on how the rest of the weekend plays out in the Pac-12, with a win on Saturday at the Arizona Wildcats, the Ducks would lock up the No. 1 spot in what is turning out to be a interesting and tough Pac-12 tournament.
Finishing strong is a necessity, especially with a lurking Stanford (13-3), UCLA (13-4) and Oregon State (12-4) right around the corner.
High flying Ducks: Ionescu lead the way for Oregon with 16 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Hebard and junior guard Maite Cazorla finished with 14 points a piece. Hebard also added six rebounds.
Foul play: Hebard and Freshman Satou Sabally finished with three fouls each
Up next: No. 8 Oregon at the Arizona Wildcats at 11 AM (PT) this Saturday in Tuscon, AZ.
How Oregon won: Coming into tonight's game vs. Arizona State, Oregon coach Dana Altman said that they are, "still playing with that confidence, that edge on them...". The hot, spot-up shooting Sun Devils weren't prepared to meet the 23 degree weather and the Oregon Ducks cold front that shut them down. The Ducks played lock-down defense, both on the perimeter and on the inside holding ASU to 28.6% from the field and 25% from three-point range in the second half. Oregon (18-10, 8-7 Pac-12) defeats Arizona State (19-8, 7-8 Pac-12) 75-68 at Matthew Knight Arena in this Pac-12 After Dark showdown.
Altman said following the game, "Our formula for this team hasn't changed much. You know if we out-rebound people and hold them under 70, our success rate has been pretty high. So I thought out defensive transition was good. All the stats: points in the paint, points off turnovers, 2nd chance points, fast break points, we won in all categories. They hit some three's and we didn't, probably the difference."
Pritchard had a solid game on both sides of the ball. Understanding that Arizona State likes to push the ball quickly and will on occasion spot up for a three-pointer in what seems like no time at all, Pritchard stuck like a glove to Sun Devils guard Remy Martin. On the flip side, Pritchard recorded six assitst and zero turnovers, a stat Altman really likes to see.
Pritchard said, "I think defensively, we got hands on balls. Kenny [Wooten] was in there deflecting and blocking shots. We just didn't give them any easy ones, that lead to us getting easy layups in transition and getting stops."
Freshman Kenny Wooten seems to play different under the lights at Matthew Knight Arena. He recorded four more blocks tonight, where at the Los Angeles schools, Wooten did not record any.
What it means: It was the upper-classmen tonight for Oregon that really stepped up. Leading the way for Oregon was redshirt senior guard Elijah Brown with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Brown has typically been a spot up three-point shooter for the Ducks this season, but found his shot moreso tonight inside the arc.
Brown said, "I was just trying to shoot my shot like I shoot in the gym when I'm by myself and I was just really focused and it was a big game for us so I tried to do what I could to help us win."
"A lot of my career I find myself just settling outside the three-point line, and the more I'm able to mix my game up, the more the three will open up. So, it's never too late. We still got some season left. I feel like I figured that out a little bit tonight."
The Ducks find themselves in the middle of the Pac with just three games left. Earlier in the week, Elijah Brown said that the team, "can still make noise". Oregon will finish the season with one more home game vs. Arizona this Saturday, and one more road trip north next weekend to face Washington and Washington State. It was also reported today that Wildcats star senior Allonzo Trier will be not playing due to "testing positive for a banned substance" by the NCAA, which should make things a little more interesting coming down the stretch in the Pac-12.
High flying Ducks: Alongside Brown, redhsirt senior MiKyle McIntosh finished with 16 points and five rebounds, redshirt junior Paul White finished with 11 points and six rebounds, and Pritchard finished with nine points. Freshman Troy Brown also added nine points.
Foul play: Troy Brown finished with four fouls and McIntosh and freshman Victor Bailey Jr., recorded three fouls a piece.
Up next: The Ducks will host the No. 14 Arizona Wildcats (22-6, 12-3 Pac-12) in their final home game and on senior night at 7:15 PM (PT) this Saturday at Matthew Knight Arena.
Oregon's promising 2017 season ended with a wild two weeks that saw Willie Taggart depart for Florida State, coach Mario Cristobal take over the program, recruits decommit left and right and then the Ducks fall flat during a 38-28 loss to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Still, the 2018 season could see Oregon return to Pac-12 prominence. That is, if a lot of variables play out in the Ducks' favor. We will take a position-by-position look at the team to discuss what must happen in order for Oregon to rise again in 2018.
Today: The 2018 Ducks will contend if (Part 7)...:They replace DL Henry Mondeaux.
Key losses: Senior Henry Mondeaux was an impact, three-year starter. Also gone are Elijahn George and Scott Pagano, who was limited by injuries after transferring in from Clemson.
What we know: Jelks has blossomed into a star. The ultra-athletic and talented Jelks led the team with both 6 1/2 sacks and 15 tackles for loss last season. He gave the Ducks a pass rusher that they sorely lacked in 2016. He should be all-Pac-12 in 2018, if not make a run at defensive player of the year.
Scott is a beast in the making. As a freshman, he proved to be a valuable run stuffer and pocket destroyer, and he should only get better.
What we don't know: Faoliu remains a bit of a wild card. There is reason to believe that he will step right in and fill Mondeaux's former spot, but we don't yet know how well he will do in that role full time.
Plus, the depth situation remains precarious.
What must happen for Oregon to contend: At the very least, Faoliu must play consistently well. He doesn't need to dominate, just be better than average. If so, Oregon will have one of the best three-man defensive lines in the conference and that will allow the linebackers, where there are some question marks, to flourish. If Faoliu is average, and the depth doesn't come through, the Ducks could have a weakness in play that might prevent them from contending in the Pac-12.
With the 2018 March Madness tournament seemingly around the corner and a week remaining of conference play, things are starting to shake out in the PAC-12. On paper, heading into the season, the initial thought was there would be 2-3 elite teams with a chance to challenge for a Final Four appearance. While that still may be a possibility, I’m a bit passive on going to Vegas with any of these teams. Arizona and USC were thought to be the two leaders coming into this year with incoming elite prospects and quality returning upperclassmen. Both teams have underachieved; however, I’m still buying stock of one of these teams. These thoughts are solely for PAC-12 regular season and conference tournament, not the NCAA tournament.
Arizona was the aforementioned letdown team. For NBA fans, if you’ve watched the Cleveland Cavaliers pre-trade play defense, that’s a great summary of how bad the Wildcats can be in spurts. Looking at their roster on paper, it could arguably be the best in college basketball which, makes the team’s inconsistency so perplexing. Maybe they’re a bit bored and sleepwalking into the tournament? I think Sean Miller could benefit from playing the Bahamian Unicorn DeAndre Ayton at center and surrounding him with four guards to space the floor and allow him to operate. The quickness on the court could help some of their defensive woes seeing that Dusan Ristic is a true liability. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a 2017 Duke-type run, winning the PAC-12 tournament minus the round of 32 exit.
One team that seems to be putting it together is UCLA after a dominant performance against Arizona at the McKale Center. The key to this team is the 32nd Holiday brother (at least it feels like it) Aaron. He should easily be a top candidate for conference player of the year. Jalen Hands seems to be finding his groove and they’re 12-2 when he scores in double figures—crazy right? They’re not as talented as the previous team, but the good news is there’s no team in the conference that’s separated itself from the pack.
What’s wrong with USC? Can anyone realistically answer that? They didn’t lose much of anything from their ’17 team that made a tournament run and they added Duke transfer Derryck Thornton. They returned three of their top contributors, Bennie Boatwright, Jordan McLaughlin, and Chimezie Metu. The rock bottom point was their three-game road skid. With Boatwright being out for the season, I don’t expect them to get out of this hole.
“Life comes at you fast” is a great summary of Arizona State’s season. Whether it’s the pressure or thinking they’re better than they actually are, their day in the sun has passed. After early-season wins against Xavier and Kansas, I think everyone was sipping the Kool-Aid. But the loss to Arizona was the precursor for what was to come. The biggest difference has been their inability to close games out. If you combine the second-half totals of their seven conference losses, they’ve been outscored 272-259. Not the widest of margins, but it adds up in a conference that plays tight games consistently.
I’m on the fence about the Washington Huskies and Oregon Ducks. When the Huskies parted ways with Lorenzo Romar, most thought there’d be a drop-off. But new head coach Mike Hopkins has brought new energy into the program. They’ve got quality wins against Arizona, Kansas on the road, and USC. The Ducks seem to be getting their footing and a lot can be attributed to Troy Brown asserting himself and looking more like the 5-star prospect. It’ll be interesting to see how both squads close out their seasons.
How Oregon lost: The Ducks needed every minute of a 40-minute fight. It started out as both the Ducks and the Bruins catching fire from behind the arc, each team shooting 50-55% from three-point range in the first half. But then, a guy named Aaron Holiday, brother of NBA players Jrue Holiday (New Orleans Pelicans) and Justin Holiday (Chicago Bulls) stole the show. It was one heck of a fight from Oregon to reach overtime, but the Holiday came early as Oregon (17-10, 7-7 Pac-12) falls 86-78 (OT) to UCLA (18-8, 9-5 Pac-12) in Los Angeles, CA.
A valiant second half effort from Oregon lead by sophomore guard Payton Pritchard’s 23 points on 4-of-9 from three-point range and dished out five assists. But it was also Pritchard’s defense on Holiday that forced Holiday to exit the game with four fouls with 11:45 to go in the second half. During that time with Holiday on the bench, the Ducks went on a 13-0 run, with Pritchard and redshirt senior guard Elijah Brown heating up from behind the arc and redshirt senior MiKyle McIntosh getting it done both on the inside and outside. The Ducks defense stepped up too creating six Bruins turnovers, bringing the score to 61-59, Oregon lead.
From that point on, it was back-and-forth all the way through regulation. But UCLA, on its home court and on senior night, took care of business lead by Holiday’s 29-point performance.
What it means: The Ducks will return home having gone 0-2 over the weekend. Before the weekend began, the Ducks sat at the number four spot in the Pac-12 rankings, behind Arizona, UCLA, and USC. But dropping to both USC and UCLA now puts the Ducks in the middle of the Pac, and putting even more of an emphasis on these next four games being must-wins. There are seven Pac-12 teams all within two games of one another.
Just two weekends to go: a home-stand vs. the Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats, and then rounding out conference play on the road north at Washington and Washington State. And then the mini-madness begins in Las Vegas, NV for the Pac-12 tournament, which the Ducks will need a strong showing to be even considered for the NCAA tournament.
High flying Ducks: Elijah Brown finished with 19 points. McIntosh almost recorded another double-double and finished with 19 points and added nine rebounds.
Foul play: McIntosh recorded four fouls.
Up next: The Ducks return home to host the Arizona State Sun Devils (19-7, 7-7 Pac-12) at 8:30 PM (PT) on Thursday at Matthew Knight Arena.
How Oregon won: It wasn't easy and it was pretty, but the Oregon Ducks managed a huge win in front of their screaming Ducks fans at Matthew Knight Arena Friday night. The Ducks had to fight fire with fire, grit with grit, for a full 40 minutes, and that still wasn't enough against the USC Trojans. In fact, it took 50 minutes, two overtime thrillers, another PERFECT shooting from the field game from sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard, and a few clutch three-pointers from senior guard Lexi Bando for the No. 9 Ducks (24-4, 13-2 Pac-12) to down the USC Trojans (17-9, 7-8 Pac-12) 80-74.
Oregon coach Kelly Graves said, "We weren't at our best tonight, but give USC credit, they played hard. I thought in that first half, we just didn't take care of the ball and when made them play in the half court, we did a great job. But we can't give up those layups in transition. Or stupid turnovers. Down the stretch we made a couple key stops, and I thought maybe we're the more conditioned in that second ovetime. I thought we looked a little fresher, they made some mental and physical mistakes, and we were lucky enough to capitalize on the win."
What it means: The Ducks recorded 24 team turnovers, gave up 31 points off those turnovers, had the ball stolen 19 times, and still won the game, granted it took two overtime's. Those two statments don't always mix in a positive way. Oregon started off with two turnovers on bad passes down low that lead to open layups for the Trojans. Not a good start for Graves and the Ducks. Oregon had zero fastbreak points compared to USC's 17. They will have to maintain better control of the ball with the season rapidly coming to a close and the Ducks needing every win to secure that No. 1 seed heading into the Pac-12 tournament the first week of March.
USC gets after loose balls, plays tough, pressure on-ball defense, and tries to get in its opponents heads. And it worked. Oregon only scored five points in the second quarter, and struggled in its final possessions to even get a good look at the hoop.
Bando said, "They're a team that we kind of don't like to play because of the turnovers they do cause. You know, the fast paced game. But we pulled out the win and you just got to move past this and just be happy with it for tonight."
High flying Ducks: Ruthy Hebard finished another night of perfect shooting. Hebard records 27 points on 12-for-12 from the field and added 10 rebounds. That brings her total points to 86 points over the last three games. Junior guard Maite Cazorla finished with 17 points hitting 4-for-7 from three-point range. Sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu, who was shadowed the whole night, was kept to a quiet 15 points but also grabbed nine rebounds. Bando finished with 11 points going 3-of-5 from three-point range.
Foul play: Mallory McGwire finished with four fouls.
Up next: Oregon stays home to host the No. 7 UCLA Bruins (21-5, 12-3 Pac-12) at 7 PM (PT) on Monday night at Matthew Night Arena.
The Washington Huskies season continues its nosedive following last night’s loss against the Utah Utes. In fact, maybe this loss should have been predicted, as the results nearly matched the outcome of the last meeting between the two teams. The Utes beat the Huskies 70 – 58 last night on Montlake.
Noah Dickerson was completely shut down by the Utes’ defense, and the Huskies struggled to find any offense during this game. Besides David Crisp’s 18 points, no other Husky finished with more than 9 points.
Barring a PAC-12 tournament win from the Huskies, it doesn’t look like the Huskies will be attending March Madness this season, most likely finding themselves in the National Invitation Tournament instead. However, this has still been a successful season for this Husky team, especially under the guidance under new coach Mike Hopkins. The Huskies take on Colorado on Saturday evening.
Down in Southern California, the Oregon Ducks tragically fell short of upending the USC Trojans. Tied 70 – 70 in the final seconds, the Ducks trap defense was exposed as USC guard Jordan McLaughlin lobbed the ball to Chimezie Metu, who was waiting in the short corner behind Oregon’s MiKyle McIntosh.
McIntosh came up big for the Ducks, piling up 23 points. Sure the Ducks could’ve played better defense so as to not allow 70 points, but they also were well rounded on the offensive side of the ball. Pritchard contributed 17 points in the effort.
The Ducks have another tough matchup against UCLA this Saturday. If the Ducks can bounce back and regain momentum heading into next week, they have a decent chance at beating both Arizona teams.
As of now, the Ducks might have a better path to March Madness than the Huskies. This team only suffered one bad loss against the Stanford Cardinal a couple of weeks ago, but have largely stayed competitive in most of their games. The Huskies on the other hand, were easily handled by the Ducks, Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, twice to Utah, and to UCLA. For Washington, wins against Kansas and Arizona won’t be enough to overcome a bunch of blowouts.
Moving forward, both coaches need to find a way to motivate their players after tough losses. For the Huskies, they need Matisse Thybulle and Jaylen Nowell to start hitting shots from three point range again. They combined to make just 3 shots from downtown against the Utes, which didn’t help opening up the paint.
The Ducks suffered another loss at the buzzer, so they need to take this game against USC as another learning opportunity on how to finish games. Hindsight is forever 20/20, but coach Dana Altman should have had his team in a man-to-man defense through the end of regulation instead of disguising his trap defense. Altman had the Ducks start the final play in man defense, until McLaughlin broke away. It seemed as Altman knew exactly what the play was going to be, since the Ducks reacted to the breakaway on point. The Ducks sent both guards to chase the ball, while having their other three players sit in a zone defense.
Zone defenses puts too much trust on each player’s peripheral abilities instead of just having each one of your own defenders matchup individually. It’s important to make sure each offensive player gets knocked out of their desired path, and USC’s Metu got to the basket untouched after Oregon’s attempt at trapping McLaughlin.
It was a tough lesson today for Pacific Northwest basketball, and maybe there’s a miracle in the works for both of these teams. Both Hopkins and Altman will need to quickly reset before the weekend in order to keep any hope at March Madness alive.
How Oregon won: A night of "first's" for sophomore guard Payton Pritchard. A first career double-double, a first collegiate dunk, and all in fron of a former teammate... Pritchard, the Ducks' sole returning starter from last year's Final Four team, came ready to put on a show for former Duck and now Golden State Warriors Jordan Bell. Pritchard leads Oregon (17-8, 7-5 Pac-12) with 19 points and 10 assists past the Washington State Cougars (9-15, 1-11 Pac-12) 84-57 at Matthew Knight Arena.
Oregon coach Dana Altman said, "He had eight assists the other night, he had 10 tonight, I thought his ball movement was good, shot it solid. With him and Troy [Brown], giving us some ball handling, 13 assists between them, I thought that was a big key. You know, making plays for other guys. Payton didn't get quite as many deflections tonight as he had the other night, I didn't think his activity defensively was quite as good, but I thought he moved the ball well and I thought he was looking for guys and really made some good plays."
What it means: The sweep is complete. The Oregon Ducks got two critical home wins against both the Huskies and the Cougars over the weekend and now sit in fourth place (with a conference record of 7-5) in the Pac-12 conference behind Arizona (10-3), UCLA (8-5) and USC (8-5). These two wins were important because going into the final six games of the season, the Ducks are on the road twice, with the Los Angeles schools coming up next. A tough stretch of games down the road and a team that is perrhaps starting to scratch the surface of its identity, these Ducks will be put to the test in each of the remaining six conference games left.
Altman said, "We are going to have to play our tails off. We are going have to have a couple really good road trips... It gives us an opportunity because the five teams they're talking about getting into the NCAA tournament, we got each one of them one time. So, we are going to have our shot. If we are tough enough and together enough to take advantage of it."
"We are making strides and going into L.A. we are going to really have to be to be together," said Pritchard. "We need to win both... All the teams are on a race, so obviously this next trip to L.A. will define our destiny in the Pac-12 race. We're going to need them."
High flying Ducks: The freshmen sentations and dynamic duo (and also roommates) of Kenny Wooten and Troy Brown Jr., continue to dominate on both sides of the court. For one, teams are starting to scout Wooten under the hoop and with his shot-blocking ability and length, by changing up their game plans, Pritchard has stated after the Washington game last Thursday night where Wooten recorded seven blocks. Wooten added three more blocks tonight and finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. On the other side, Brown Jr.'s offensive skill is really coming to live as of lately and finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds tonight vs. the Cougars. The third roommate of this duo is freshman Victor Bailey Jr., who has been a spark off the bench for Altman and the Ducks. He finished with 13 points. Senior Mikyle McIntosh also finished with 13 points on 4-of-6 from the field.
Foul play: Redshirt junior Paul White finished with four fouls.
Up next: The Ducks hit the road to face USC (17-9, 8-5 Pac-12) at 6 PM (PT) this Thursday in Los Angeles.
How Oregon won: Sweep complete. Unselfishness, poise, and a pair of new 1,000 career-point members. This was an all-around complete game from the No. 9 Oregon Ducks against the Washington State Cougars. The Sophomore studs of Ruthy Hebard and Sabrina Ionescu combined for 46 points, Ionescu added nine assists, and Hebard nine rebounds that powered the Ducks (23-4, 12-2 Pac-12) past the Washington State Cougars (10-16, 3-11 Pac-12) 90-79 in Pullman, WA.
A perfect 12-for-12 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line for Ruthy Hebard. Coming off a career high 30-point performance in Seattle vs. the Huskies carried over the five hour drive east to Pullman. Her consistency is part of Oregon’s foundation for success.
Her partner in crime, Ionescu was on triple-double watch once again, but fell short by five rebounds and one assist. She finished with 17 points, nine assists, and five rebounds, and hitting clutch free throws down the stretch.
What it means: Welcome back Lexi Bando. The senior leader for the Ducks made her return this afternoon after suffering a stress fracture in her foot before the first Civil War back in January. At the 1:37 mark in the first quarter, the senior subbed in. And at the 1:12 mark, she immediately does what Bando does best: hit three-pointers. Bando played just 12 minutes, but made the most of it finishing with nine points on 3-for-6 from three-point range. Her hot shooting causes the defense to keep one eye on her on the perimeter allowing for opportunities for high-to-low movement down low for Hebard and Mallory McGwire.
Oregon got it done on the interior once again. 40 points in the paint, created nine WSU turnovers and capitalizing on those turnover turning them into 12 points.
An area of improvement for the Ducks today was perimeter defense. WSU shot 55% (11-for-20) from three-point range, five Cougars scored in double digits, and let off the gas in the final minutes of the game. Oregon will have to stay consistent throughout the full 40 minutes against any opponent in the Pac-12.
High flying Ducks: Four Ducks scored in double digits. Alongside Ionescu and Hebard, freshman Satou Sabally was locked in early on. Sabally was a perfect 3-for-3 to start this one off and finished with 17 points on 5-of-7 from the field. Junior Odi Gildon, coming off a nine-point game vs. Washington, had another nice game finishing with 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.
Foul play: Hebard finished with four fouls.
Up next: The Ducks head home to host the USC Trojans (16-8, 6-7 Pac-12) at 6 PM (PT) this Friday at Matthew Knight Arena.