The Ducks played on the road against a top 5 team without a five-star center (F'Faly Dante) and their starting power forward (Shakur Juiston).
It didn’t matter.
No. 10 Oregon defeated No. 5 Michigan 71-70 in overtime Saturday morning in Ann Arbor, MI.
Here are three takeaways from the contest.
Anthony Mathis is a stud
The New Mexico transfer had himself a game. He finished the game with 19 points including six three pointers, four of which came in the first half. He got the scoring started with two deep throws to give Oregon a 6-3 lead and never looked back. His hot shooting forced the Wolverines to close out hard whenever he caught the ball and ensured his defender couldn’t help off of him which opened up the offense for Mathis’ teammates.
The Ducks will not panic
Given the experience on the roster, it’s no surprise that during Michigan’s comeback attempt in the second half the Ducks never panicked. Rather, they kept playing their game and finding success. Besides freshman CJ Walker, every other player in the rotation today either transferred to Oregon in the offseason or played for last season’s Sweet 16 team. They all have experience in big games and will see each game through to the final buzzer.
None were more important than senior guard Payton Pritchard who ended the game scoring eight consecutive field goals to end regulation into overtime. With 1:16 remaining in the extra period, the kid from West Linn got a layin and the foul to give Oregon a three point lead. He finished with 23 points on 11-19 shooting.
This is the best team since the Final Four year
With ranked wins over No. 22 Seton Hall and Michigan, the Ducks have showed they are for real this season. Their two losses both came down to the final possessions on a neutral site to ranked teams, No. 17 North Carolina and No. 6 Gonzaga. Both of those teams got blown out by Michigan in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. This time, they got a final possession to go their way.
This is an experienced team with a closer in Pritchard. Winning the Pac-12 should be the expectation this season for the Ducks. After that, the sky's the limit for what they can do in March.