Oregon Ducks

Instant Analysis: No. 13 Oregon edges Cal

Instant Analysis: No. 13 Oregon edges Cal

EUGENE – No. 13 Oregon edged out California in the Ducks’ Pac-12 Conference home opener in front of a sell out crowd of 54,766 fans and students.

The win, in which the Duck defense shined and the offense didn't wake up until the third quarter, improves the Ducks to 2-0 in Pac-12 play for the first time since 2013 and 10-1 under Coach Mario Cristobal at Autzen Stadium. Oregon (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) remains the only team in the North Division without a conference loss.

Here are the top four takeaways from the contest.

1. Sloppiness needs to be turned into consistency 

Oregon’s offense looked strong to start, pounding it on the ground with ease to reach the Cal 10-yard line in their opening drive. Then, a turn of events began a nasty spiral. A 15-yard penalty on Johnny Johnson III pushed back the ball and on the next play, quarterback Justin Herbert threw his first interception of the season. The pick ended a streak of 175 attempts without an interception for Herbert.

The Bears capitalized and struck first with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Devon Modster to Chris Brown, taking an early 7-0 lead.

It was the first first-half touchdown allowed all season by the UO defense and the first touchdown allowed since the opener against Auburn.

2. Turnovers and penalties haunt Oregon

The ugliness continued.

The Ducks had just two turnovers in four games heading into Saturday, which was ranked best in the conference and fifth in the nation. Oregon turned it over twice in the first quarter: Herbert’s interception and a Travis Dye fumble. To open the second quarter, Dye fumbled the ball again, totaling three turnovers in three possessions.

Oregon entered Saturday as the least penalized team in the Pac-12, averaging 4.25 penalties and 35.5 penalty yards per game. In the first half alone, the Ducks were flagged four times for 40 yards. 

3. Freshmen highlights

Spectacular individual performances from freshmen are not to be overlooked.  Mycah Pittman and Kayvon Thibodeaux both had shining, highlight-type moments. In his debut as a Duck,

Pittman began the game with two diving catches for 28 yards. After a shoulder injury sidelined the receiver in fall camp, it was impressive to see him leading the team and performing at such a high level in his first outing. Thibodeaux recorded his first full sack of his career in a big third down moment. The five-star prospect sacked Cal’s Modster and forced a fumble that the Bears recovered. Also of note, kicker Camden Lewis made his first career field goal to get Oregon on the board and close it to a 7-3 Cal lead. 

4. CJ Verdell injured

Starting running back CJ Verdell was off to a fast start (10 carries for 47 yards and two catches for 17 yards) before going down with an apparent painful right ankle injury. The sophomore was writhing around on the turf and holding his ankle. He was able to walk off the field with help from the training staff. He did not return to play and emerged from the locker room in a walking boot.


More to come with quotes and videos from Coach Mario Cristobal and Ducks players.

Oregon guard Payton Pritchard nabs another Pac-12 Player of the Week honor

USA Today Images

Oregon guard Payton Pritchard nabs another Pac-12 Player of the Week honor

Payton Pritchard has done it again. 

For the second time this season, the Oregon men’s basketball guard has been named Pac-12 Player of the Week. The news comes just one week after Pritchard received Naismith Men’s Player of the Week honors for a third time this season. 

Pritchard continued to build upon his National Player of the Year campaign this week, averaging 28 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists as Oregon split its road trip in the desert at Arizona State and Arizona.

The Ducks fell to ASU 77-72 in Tempe earlier in the week. Pritchard fouled out after scoring 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting and 4-of-10 from behind the arc.

The Oregon senior point guard bounced back with a career-high 38 points in the Ducks 73-72 overtime victory over Arizona on Saturday. It was a statement win for the Ducks, who remain in the hunt for the Pac-12 Championship crown. For Pritchard, it may have solidified his Pac-12 Player of the Year nod. 

Arizona coach Sean Miller was astounded by Pritchard’s standout performance, calling him Pac-12 Player of the Year, and he might just be right.

Pritchard currently leads the Pac-12 in scoring and assists with 20.1 points per game and 5.5 assists. The Ducks have now won five overtime games this season...could another clutch performance from Pritchard be on the horizon? The Ducks head back to Matthew Knight Arena on Thursday for a Civil War matchup vs. rivals Oregon State. Tip off is set for 8:00 p.m. in Eugene. 

FULL VIDEO Sabrina Ionescu speaks at Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial

FULL VIDEO Sabrina Ionescu speaks at Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial

It's been less than a month since Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others tragically passed away in a helicopter accident on January 26, 2020. 

Less than two hours before Sabrina Ionescu and the Oregon Ducks were going to play then-No. 9 Oregon State on the road, both teams learned about the passing of Kobe and his daughter. The two teams shared a moment of silence shortly after.

The Ducks, especially Ionescu, had spent time with the Bryants and gotten close to in the past year. Kobe and Gianna attended multiple Ducks games when Oregon traveled to California.

Wearing Kobe's signature shoe with "Forever 24" written on the heels, Ionescu would play all 40 minutes of the Civil War and leave victorious to sweep the season series against Oregon State.

After the game, Sabrina dedicated the rest of the season to Kobe in a postgame interview with ESPN.

I mean, everything I do, I do it for him obviously. Really close friend and this season’s for him.

Staples Center hosted a public memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant on 2/24 in honor of Kobe and Gianna's basketball numbers of No. 2 and No 24.

At the memorial, Ionescu gave an emotional speech about how both of them had greatly affected her. She started off the speech detailing the first time she met them when they surprised the Ducks by sitting courtside when they played at USC. Ionescu thought the surprise was going to be "Nike sent us some new shoes or swag or something."

When Kobe, Gianna and two of her teammates entered the arena, "they sat courtside while [Sabrina's] jaw sat dropped." 

After the game, they visited the Ducks locker room and Kobe gave them advice she's never forgotten. 

He congratulated me on the win that day and our season up until that point, but then said, and I'll never forget, 'Don't shoot yourselves in the foot.' He meant don't settle. Keep grinding, Control what you can.

Ionescu also remembered watching Gianna smile in the locker room and that Sabrina had watched film on her: "She had a fadeaway better than mine." However, Ionescu knew that Gianna was more than just a basketball prodigy, she was the future of the women's game.

If I represented the present of the women's game, Gigi was the future and Kobe knew it. So we decided to build a future together.

Sabrina would work out twice with Gianna and Kobe over the summer.

"I loved watching how hard she worked and how much her teammates loved her, but also her own desire to be great. She always wanted to learn, to go to every game she could: college, NBA, WNBA. Kobe was helping her with that because he saw it in her. Just like he saw it in me.

"His vision for others is always bigger than what they imagine for themselves. His vision for me was way bigger than my own. More importantly, he didn't show up in my life and leave. He stayed. We kept in touch, always texting, calling, game visits. I'd drop a triple-double and have a text from him 'Another triple-double I see' with a flex emoji. Another game another text: 'Yo beast mode' or 'Easy money'. I felt some pressure early on in the season and he wrote to me 'Be you. It's been good enough and that will continue to be good enough.'"

Kobe would teach Sabrina his stepback to put her game over the top and helped her with her footwork, a Kobe specialty: "'Real sharpness comes without effort' he said. ...He was giving me the blueprint. He was giving Gigi the same blueprint."

Kobe reassured Sabrina that her drive to be the best was an asset, not a curse. 

He united us. He made it so that the outsiders who outworked everyone else, who were driven to be just a little bit different every single day, to make those around them, behind them and above them a little bit better every single day. And they weren't the exception. They were the rule.

Sabrina, the face of women's college basketball, is doing it not only for herself, but also for the women that come after her. 

I wanted to be a part of the generation that changed basketball for Gigi and her teammates. Where being born female didn't mean being born behind. Where greatness wasn't divided by gender. 

Ionescu still texts Kobe despite his passing: "'Thank you for everything. The rest is for you. Rest easy my guy.' The last one I sent him said 'I miss you. May you rest in peace my dear friend.'" 

To close out her speech, Sabrina had an emotional plea to all those watching.

I ask each of you, every girldad, every human here with a voice, a platform, and a heart, to not let his sun set. Shine for us. For our sport where he once did. Invest in us with the same passion and drive and respect and love as he did his own daughter. In the end she was a sun just starting to rise and god did she glow. May their light forever shine. Kobe and Gigi I'll love you forever. Thank you.

Ionescu will travel to the Bay Area to play No. 4 Stanford tonight at 6:00 p.m. after the conclusion of the memorial.

You can watch the full interview embedded above.

Sabrina Ionescu's teammates watched her speech at Kobe and Gianna's Memorial after shootaround

Sabrina Ionescu's teammates watched her speech at Kobe and Gianna's Memorial after shootaround

The No. 3 Oregon Ducks (25-2, 14-1 Pac-12) are preparing for one of their most important games of the season so far, on the road against No. 4 Stanford (24-3, 13-2 Pac-12) tonight at 6:00 p.m.

But some things are bigger than basketball.

Senior guard Sabrina Ionescu spoke at the Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial Service and gave an emotional speech about the impact they both had on her in the previous year.

355 miles north in Palo Alto, her Oregon teammates had her back all the way and watched the speech after shootaround wrapped.

Sabrina also got support from her former teammates, including Atlanta Dream guard Maite Cazorla.

Ionescu will play tonight at Stanford, just hours after the memorial service, to all-but-clinch the conference championship with a victory. 

The Bryants had gotten closer to Sabrina since they attended the Ducks game against USC last season and visited the team in the locker room following the game. Ionescu worked out with Kobe and Gianna twice this past summer, and both Sabrina and Kobe saw the same thing in Gianna: the future of women's basketball.

If I represented the present of the women's game, Gigi was the future and Kobe knew it. So we decided to build a future together.

[RELATED: What you need to know: No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 Stanford (round two)]

Social media reacts to Sabrina Ionescu's tribute to Kobe Bryant: ‘Rest easy my guy’

NBCS Northwest

Social media reacts to Sabrina Ionescu's tribute to Kobe Bryant: ‘Rest easy my guy’

“Wake up, grind and get better." That was the message Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant had for Sabrina Ionescu.

Now, the Oregon women’s basketball star is paying tribute to her mentor and his daughter Gianna, who were tragically killed in a helicopter accident last month.

At the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Ionescu eloquently spoke about why she idolized Bryant and how his daughter, Gigi, was the future of women’s sports.

Here’s a look at how social media reacted as Ionescu paid tribute to Kobe and Gigi in an arena filled with legends:

Ionescu will now catch a plane and head to Palo Alto to rejoin the Oregon women's basketball team. The No. 3 Ducks take on No. 4 Stanford at 6:00 p.m. 

What you need to know: No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 Stanford (round two)

What you need to know: No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 Stanford (round two)

Let’s rewind the clock back to week four of Pac-12 conference play. It was a Thursday night in Eugene, Oregon with the No. 3 Stanford Cardinal in town to battle the No. 6 seed Oregon Ducks. A nationally televised game with big national relevance. 

The Cardinal had the lead after one quarter, 17-13. And that was about it for Stanford. The Ducks outscored the Cardinal 74-38 the rest of the way behind Sabrina Ionescu’s 37 points.

A 32-point victory over the No. 3 team in the country, and the Ducks were rolling.

Since then, much has changed for both squads.

Stanford is without star freshman Haley Jones, who suffered a knee injury days later against the No. 8 Oregon State Beavers. She has yet to return to the court. However, 6-foot-3 forward Maya Dodson has returned from injury and proven to be an asset on both the offensive and defensive ends.

For the Ducks, they just seem to be getting better and better. Since their first meeting on Jan. 16, Oregon has played top opponents week after week: Twice against then-No. 7 Oregon State, at No. 4 UConn, No. 12 Arizona, No. 19 Arizona State and at No. 7 UCLA.

Their strength of schedule has only benefited the Ducks in terms of national ranking as well as preparation for whose next.

Could we be previewing the Pac-12 Tournament finals coming up in just a few short weeks in Las Vegas, Nevada? Possibly. But make no mistake, there’s no guarantee in this challenging conference. We do know one thing, it’s going to be a good one. 

Oregon (25-2, 14-1 Pac-12) and Stanford (24-3, 13-2 Pac-12) sit atop the Pac-12 conference standings at one and two. Oregon can clinch a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title with a win over the Cardinal.

Looking ahead, Stanford’s final weekend of conference play is a trip to No. 11 Arizona and No. 21 Arizona State. The Ducks will host the Washington schools. Advantage Oregon.

Here is what you need to know about the game tonight:



Oregon - 85.9

Stanford - 75.9


Oregon - 28.8

Stanford - 16.7


Oregon - 40.3

Stanford - 42.3


Oregon - 21.0

Stanford - 15.4


Contain Kiana Williams. This has probably been the best stretch Williams has played all season long. In their first meeting, Williams was the leading scorer for Stanford with 15 points. She loves to get out and run and push the pace. Against the Colorado Buffaloes last Sunday, she finished with 29 points including two three-pointers in the final 10 seconds that gave Stanford the victory.

A key to slowing her down is Minyon Moore, who has been heckling opposing guards all season long. Moore will have to do it again against Williams.

Take the crowd out early. A big advantage for Oregon in their first matchup was having the Matthew Knight Arena near-sellout crowd backing them up. It’s a different story when you’re the road team. The last time the Ducks were in Maples Pavilion, they won by 40 (88-48). Stanford may be looking for a bit of revenge in more ways than one.

How you do that? Oregon’s offense has been stellar lately with Erin Boley finding her outside shot. When opposing squads send double teams down low on Ruthy Hebard, Oregon and Boley need to capitalize with hitting three-pointers. Luckily for the Ducks, Boley has been on a tear lately hitting 15 three-pointers in their last two outings.


WHO: No. 3 Oregon at No. 4 Stanford 

WHEN: Monday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. (PT)

WHERE: Maples Pavilion, Palo Alto, California.


RADIO: Oregon Sports Network

Oregon WR Juwan Johnson confirms he's a physical specimen at NFL Combine

Oregon WR Juwan Johnson confirms he's a physical specimen at NFL Combine

Anyone who has seen Oregon wide receiver Juwan Johnson take the field before knows he’s a big dude.

At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Johnson is one of the largest wideouts at the NFL Combine this year and his measurables prove it.

According to the NFL Draft’s official Twitter, Johnson led all wide receivers in longest arms, longest wingspan and largest hands. 

Johnson transferred to Oregon from Penn State in 2019, but injuries derailed his Ducks career early on. He went on to appear in 10 of Oregon’s 14 games, catching 30 passes for 467 yards and four touchdowns. He helped lead the Ducks to a victory in the Rose Bowl. His 66 yards were the most of any player on either team.

Johnson's large body frame and ability to shield defenders makes him a valuable asset to scouts looking for bigger types at the wide receiver position.

While his onfield portion of the combine will likely gain attention, the bench press will be perhaps his most anticipated event. The receiver recently announced he’ll be using the NFL Combine bench press to raise donations for Uplifting Athletes, a charity that assists the rare disease community. He hopes to raise $2,000 by completing at least 14 reps during the bench press.

Johnson joins quarterback Justin Herbert, tight end Jacob Breeland, linebacker Troy Dye, as well as offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton, Jake Hanson and Shane Lemieux in one of the largest classes of draft hopefuls the Ducks have ever had participate in the NFL Combine.

Oregon men's basketball holds steady in latest AP Poll ranking

Oregon men's basketball holds steady in latest AP Poll ranking

It was a bittersweet weekend for Oregon men's basketball (21-7, 10-5 Pac-12) after splitting another road trip in the Pac-12 conference, resulting in the Ducks staying put at No. 14 in the latest Associated Press rankings.

Joining the Ducks in the Top 25 from the Pac-12 Conference is the No. 21 Colorado Buffaloes, with Arizona State and Arizona being two of the first three teams left out of the rankings. 

Here's how the top ten shook out.

  1. Kansas (24-3)
  2. Baylor (24-2)
  3. Gonzaga (27-2)
  4. Dayton (25-2)
  5. San Diego State (26-1)
  6. Florida State (23-4)
  7. Duke (23-4)
  8. Kentucky (22-5)
  9. Maryland (22-5)
  10. Creighton (22-6)

Let's recap the weekend for Oregon.

@ Arizona State, LOSS 77-72

Tempe has cursed Oregon sports this academic school year. All three: football, women's basketball, and now men's basketball have fallen on the road to Arizona State. 

The Ducks got off to a slow start falling behind 12 points early. Oregon eventually tied the game at 54-all with 7:17 left in the game, but could never get over the hump. Pritchard finished with 18 points, 16 in the second half, but fouled out with 2:15 to go in the game and the Ducks down five. 

[Instant Analysis: No. 14 Oregon falls in the desert to Arizona State]

The loss set up a must-win game at Arizona, for the Ducks who were still in the hunt for a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. 

@ then-No. 24 Arizona, WIN 73-72 OT

Senior guard Payton Pritchard had the performance of the season, scoring a career-high 38 points in an overtime thriller in the desert. The Ducks got to the extra period after Arizona’s Josh Green missed two free throws with five seconds left. Then, Shakur Juiston scored all nine of the Ducks' points in overtime, including a game-winning layup with 1.4 seconds left after Will Richardson drew the defense. 

[Instant Analysis: Payton Pritchard drops new career-high in OT win vs. Arizona]

The guard from West Linn may have wrapped up the Pac-12 Player of the Year Award with his gutsy performance, which helped the Ducks sweep the season series against the Wildcats. 

UP NEXT: The Ducks will host the Oregon State Beavers on ESPN2 at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday in the second leg of the Civil War series.

Sabrina Ionescu pens letter to Oregon: ‘Let’s go take that unfinished business and finish it’

Sabrina Ionescu pens letter to Oregon: ‘Let’s go take that unfinished business and finish it’

Sabrina Ionescu could have chosen any day to write a letter to the Ducks community. 

But Monday, February 24 won’t go down as just any day for the Oregon women’s basketball star. It’s the day a public memorial will be held at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles for Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were among nine killed in a tragic helicopter accident last month. 

Ionescu is expected to speak at the service before catching a flight north to rejoin her teammates in Palo Alto for a game against No. 4 Stanford. 

In a letter with The Players’ Tribune, Ionescu opened up about her decision to remain at Oregon to help build something special, and how without words, Kobe made it clear she had made the right decision. 

He saw the pressure that we were about to face this year as a privilege. A challenge to overcome. And the fact that it was scary to me at first?? He saw that as an opportunity. Harnessing your fear as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself — that’s Mamba Mentality 101. And I took it to heart.

Ionescu harnessed that Mamba Mentality this season with her Ducks team, who currently sit No. 3 in the women’s college basketball rankings. They’ve overcome a lot of challenges: shocking team USA, beating UConn and sweeping Oregon State. 

But no matter how the season finishes, Ionescu is proud of what she’s helped build at Oregon and the community who has rallied around her since the very beginning. 

It’s been a year I’ll remember forever, but it’s also been bittersweet. Because on one hand, I’m sitting here writing you this letter, Ducks Nation, and I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished together. I’m so proud of how we’ve met our expectations head-on, and contended for another Pac-12 title, and — even with this high-pressure target on our back — stayed right near the top of the polls all season long. I’m so proud of how we’ve put ourselves in the perfect position to reach our second straight Final Four, and beyond.

Ionescu will take the next step of her basketball journey without one of her biggest mentors, but she knows their two paths crossed for a reason. 

“Kobe always saw the bigger picture,” Ionsecu wrote. “That was clear with everything he did in his life — but to me it was especially clear with the way that he looked at and treated the game of women’s basketball. He didn’t see growing the game with girls as his hobby, or as some side project, or as a charity case. He saw it as a movement. And he didn’t get involved because he just wanted to be a fan of our movement. He got involved because he wanted to be a part of it.”

While the world mourns the loss of Bryant, Ionescu knows what Kobe and others have instilled in her is so much more than Mamba Mentality for girls, it’s Mamba Mentality, period. 

Oregon has a must-win game against No. 4 Stanford on Monday to clinch its third-straight Pac-12 title. If the Ducks come away victorious, Oregon will have the top seed heading into the Pac-12 Tournament. 

As Ionescu knows, there’s still a lot of work to be done. 

“Let’s go take that unfinished business and finish it.”

NFL Combine profile: Oregon QB Justin Herbert

NFL Combine profile: Oregon QB Justin Herbert

Justin Herbert

Position: Quarterback
Year: Senior 
Hometown: Eugene, Oregon


Height: 6’6 2/8" 

Weight: 236 pounds

Hand: 10"


When quarterback Justin Herbert chose to forgo the NFL Draft in 2019 and return to Oregon for his senior year: his aspirations were clear. He had unfinished business with the Ducks.

One year later, Herbert is one of the premier quarterbacks in the illustrious 2020 NFL Draft class and is coming off a stellar finish to his four years with the Ducks. The Eugene native led Oregon to a 12-2 record, a Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl victory. The pre-draft process is off to a solid start for the 6-foot-6, 225 pound quarterback, who was named Senior Bowl MVP.

Herbert has all the tools needed to become a franchise quarterback, but presents some consistency issues that we will talk about below that bring concern to NFL scouts.

Draft projections

Most mock drafts have Herbert as the third quarterback to be selected in the NFL draft class. Pro Football Focus, NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, Sporting News, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller and CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson all believe Herbert will be selected with the No. 6 overall pick held by the Los Angeles Chargers.

NFL comparison:

Andrew Luck and John Elway


- Protypical size
- High football IQ (4.01 GPA)
- Big time arm with quick release
- Pocket presence
- Ability to use his legs


- Doesn’t keep his eyes up to extend plays
- Inaccurate throws due to improper setting of feet
- Oregon’s first-read offense limited the amount of progressions to one side of the field for Herbert