Oregon Ducks

Oregon basketball at USC: A glimmer of hope

Oregon basketball at USC: A glimmer of hope

Records: Oregon (15-10, 6-5 Pac-12), USC (14-12, 7-6)

Why watch? I know it may feel like a chore to watch this men’s basketball team at times. The Civil War loss hurt Oregon’s standings in the Pac-12 Conference, pushing the Ducks further away from securing a top four spot, which provides a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The loss also wilted Oregon’s slim chances of securing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

If you need some hope, here it is; Trust in Oregon coach Dana Altman. Altman, who just moved into the NCAA’s top 30 all-time Division I coaches with 635 victories, historically leads the Ducks to more wins in the latter half of Pac-12  play. Under Altman, Oregon has a 53-22 record (.706) during the second half of Pac-12 play. Only Arizona, with 54, has won more games than Oregon in the back half of conference play during that span.

“We are 15-10 and we were hoping to be better at this stage, but we are not,” Altman said. “We need to focus in on the next six games and try to get better. Four of them are on the road, so that will not be an easy task.”

Washington sits atop the standings but there hasn’t been a Pac-12 team to prove domination thus far. Since any team can get hot in the Pac-12 tournament… Why not the Ducks?

High Flying Ducks

Freshman forward Louis King leads the Ducks in scoring with a 12.9 average this season, 16 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in Pac-12 play. He’s scored in double figures during 11 of 12 conference games.

However, the 6-foot-9 forward suffered a hand injury in Oregon’s loss to Oregon State. According to reporters present, King’s index and middle fingers on his right hand were taped when shot with that hand before Tuesday’s practice.

King sat out of Monday and Tuesday practice in hopes to rest and be ready for Wednesday’s practice, according to Altman.

If King can’t play against USC, the Ducks would again be down to eight scholarship players.

Junior guard Payton Pritchard is on record watch. With four more assists (421 current career assists), he will pass Luke Jackson (424 assists, 2000-04) for sixth in UO career assists.

Freshman Miles Norris is coming off a solid performance. He added a boost from the bench, scoring seven points and setting career highs in rebounds (5), blocks (3) and minutes (17).

Trojans to keep an eye on

Bennie Boatwright is coming off a record game in USC’s win at California. The 6-10 senior made a USC record 10 three-pointers and tied the Pac-12 single-game mark.

Wooten will have his hands full with 6-foot-11 Nick Rakocevic, the Pac-12’s leader in double-doubles. Along with his 13 double-doubles, he also has five games with 20 or more points and 10 or more rebounds, leading all Pac-12 players.

USC freshman Kevin Porter, who was suspended for the earlier meeting with the Ducks, is averaging 9.3 points per game off the bench.

Shut down the arc

Oregon’s three-point defense must be on point against the Trojans. USC is shooting 38.7 percent from three-point range this season which leads all Pac-12 teams and ranks 20th in the country.

Number to know: The last five years, Oregon is 25-4 after Valentine’s Day in Pac-12 Conference games, according to UO game notes.

How and where to watch

Time: Thursday, Feb. 21, 6:05 p.m

Where: Galen Center, Los Angeles, California

TV: ESPN

More Ducks:

It’s Juwan Johnson’s opportunity to grasp or waste

New flock on the block: Mario Cristobal makes it official for three new coaches

Justin Timberlake rocks Oregon Ducks shoes for concert in Portland

Leavitt didn’t fit Cristobal’s vision; A decade in the making

Podcast: You can’t reward a one-loss, no conference championship team with a CFP spot, right?

Podcast: You can’t reward a one-loss, no conference championship team with a CFP spot, right?

Minnesota and Baylor just may skip over Oregon to secure a College Football Playoff spot.

Let's run a scenario:

“If Oregon wins out, and there is still a lot of football to be played, the only way a one-loss Oregon team that is the Pac-12 Champion is on the outside looking in, is if you do get a Minnesota running the table or even Baylor running the table,” says Talkin’ Ducks host Jordan Kent on the latest Talkin' Ducks Podcast.

If you look at just the value of wins alone and strength of conference, the Big Ten is home to six of the top-25 teams in the country; the Big 12 has five; the Pac-12 has just two (No. 6 Oregon, No. 7 Utah).

Minnesota upset Penn State (then No. 17 beating then No. 4) which jumped the Golden Gophers up to No. 8 in this week’s CFP rankings.

The Golden Gophers still have two top-20 teams remaining on their schedule: No. 20 Iowa and No. 14 Wisconsin.

The other team that may give Oregon some trouble is Baylor. The No. 13 Bears (9-0) don’t have any promising wins to show for yet this season, but still has to face two teams in the top-20 remaining on their schedule: vs. No. 10 Oklahoma on Saturday and vs. No. 19 Texas on November 23. Both games however will be played at home in Waco, Texas.

It’s a plus and a minus feeling. If both Minnesota and Baylor win out and are they are their respected conference champions, strength of schedule and strength of conference just may be the determining factor to putting either of these teams ahead of Oregon.

On the other hand, Baylor and Minnesota have tough matchups coming up and a loss for either team will put a one-loss Oregon ahead. 

Then there is Alabama. Oh yes, with the history and dominance in college football, can you even imagine a College Football Playoff without Alabama in it? Would the committee put a one-loss, no SEC champ Alabama ahead of (hypothetically) a Pac-12 Conference Champion in Oregon?

“I don’t think you can reward a one-loss team that doesn’t play in their conference championship game and award them a playoff spot ahead of a team with a similar record as far as who goes into the College Football Playoff,” says Kent.

“They shouldn’t, but I think they will,” added co-host Anthony Newman.

Listen to the full podcast below:

MORE ON THE DUCKS

Oregon swagged out in nightmare green and yellow for Pac-12 After Dark

Legacy of a Leader: Troy Dye's intensity guiding Oregon to a season worth coming back for

Talkin' Ducks Podcast: Jordan Kent sits down with Mario Cristobal

Oregon swagged out in nightmare green and yellow for Pac-12 After Dark

Oregon swagged out in nightmare green and yellow for Pac-12 After Dark

Looking to punch their tickets to the Pac-12 Championship game, the No. 6 Oregon Ducks will be swagged out in yellow and nightmare green ­­­­on Saturday at 7:30 p.m in Autzen Stadium. Ducks fans are encouraged to wear green to the crucial matchup.

Oregon's "Nike Vapor Fusion" uniform is celebrating its 20th anniversary of their partnership with Nike. The winged helmets are back and the jerseys feature large "Mighty Oregon" font resembling last season's "Oregon Football 2.0" uniform with slight differences. The addition of Nightmare Green is the biggest change while notably no black set was released (yet). 

Coming off a bye, a Duck win this Saturday vs. Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) would clinch their third North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship. A victory keeps the Ducks in the running as a College Football Playoff contender.

Numbers to know: In the last 12 games between Oregon and Arizona, the Ducks are 7-0 when scoring more than 40 points per game and 0-5 when scoring less than 40.

MORE DUCKS

Legacy of a Leader: Troy Dye's intensity guiding Oregon to a season worth coming back for

No. 6 Oregon in excellent position in CFB Playoff Poll: Patience is required

How Oregon can beat Arizona to become kings of the North

The magic number for Oregon vs. Arizona

Mario Cristobal’s ear catching comments on expanding Mykael Wright’s role

Legacy of a Leader: Troy Dye's intensity guiding Oregon to a season worth coming back for

Legacy of a Leader: Troy Dye's intensity guiding Oregon to a season worth coming back for

Flashback to a beautifully crisp winter day and Oregon’s win over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Junior Troy Dye hoisted his defensive MVP trophy in the air as fans congratulated Oregon’s leading tackler for three-straight seasons on possibly his last victory in a Ducks uniform.

It wasn’t. Despite gaining traction as a “freak athlete” in NFL circles with an opportunity to make major money in the 2019 NFL draft, Dye chose to stay at Oregon for his senior season. 

317 days later, Dye is still leading No. 6 Oregon in tackles, has jumped up to a projected first round 2020 NFL draft selection and has the opportunity to be hoisting a more prestigious trophy in the air in his actual final season.

Through eight games, Dye’s senior tour has featured 42 tackles with 6.5 for a loss including a sack, three pass breakups and an interception on one of Oregon’s strongest defenses in program history.

His highlights are stunning:

  • In his final home opener, the smiling linebacker danced alone to the familiar tune of “Shout” letting loose and pumping up the rowdy crowd in a moment that will go down in history.
  • Dye recorded a career-high 15 tackles and the most in a season opener in Oregon history vs. Auburn.
  • Dye performed a snow angel in the middle of the W at Husky Stadium after overcoming the largest second-half deficit since 2008.
  • Back in his home of southern California, Dye jumped into the stands after handing USC its worst home loss since 2009.

The Ducks are undefeated in Pac-12 Conference play, one win from claiming the North Division and contenders for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

On a scale from 1-10, how much fun is Dye having?

“I’m at a 12. I’m having a blast. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face, I come here (to practice) with a smile on my face and I’m going to leave with a smile on my face.”

The most telling moment of his season may have come from suffering a broken thumb and gutting it out at Washington. The injury kept him on the sideline against Washington State, snapping his consecutive start streak at 40 games and bringing a reality that it takes only one snap for a football season, or career, to be over. In a cast the size of a club, Dye returned one game later to beat up on the Trojans and show the truth of his character.

“That’s a significant injury that a lot of people would have probably waited to be fully healed and then go and play,” Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal said. “But what he chose to do is different. When guys like Troy speak, those are strong, powerful and impactful words. This (season) means a lot to him and it shows in the way he approaches practice and everything he does. I can’t say enough great things about him, I think he’s as good as it gets in the country.”

His words impacted Oregon's home opener, in which the Ducks trailed Cal 7-0 at halftime. Dye’s halftime speech eloquently made it clear the Ducks needed to play to their standard. The sentiment was echoed and the Ducks overcame their slow start to beat the Bears 17-7.

His actions speak louder than his words. Since returning and still in a cast for his thumb, the linebacker has hit a new level with three conference games left to play.

“He’s done a tremendous job over the course of the season but you really see it now, down the stretch,” Oregon Defensive Coordinator Andy Avalos said. “In my opinion, I think he’s turned it up in practice, since the injury. It made him want it even more.”

Troy Dye agrees that he has hit a new intensity.

“I realized that it can be taken from you. Within a snap, it can be gone,” Dye said. “I’m super fortunate to be able to come back and play with my brothers and end the season how I want to end it. I’m happy, I’m having fun with it and enjoying my time here.”

His teammates couldn’t be happier for him, either. True freshman Mase Funa beams when he details all the tips he’s learned from Dye. Junior Thomas Graham loves to see Dye prosper after witnessing him help change the program from a 4-8 team (2016) to a team on an eight-game winning streak with the biggest goals, a conference title and playoff berth, still possible.

What’s it like for Cristobal to witness Dye live his best life this season?

“I’m jealous. I want to go back to college and do it like he’s doing it,” Cristobal said.

In his final season, the future opportunities are ever-present for Dye. Every Oregon game, more and more NFL scouts grace the media press box. Dye accepted a Senior Bowl invite, where he can show off his elite agility and lateral quickness.

But before all of that, the Ducks need their leader to finish a potentially history-making season, which is exactly the kind of season a junior hopes to return for.

Talkin' Ducks Podcast: Jordan Kent sits down with Mario Cristobal

Talkin' Ducks Podcast: Jordan Kent sits down with Mario Cristobal

Jordan Kent and Anthony Newman talk about the Ducks coming out of the bye week, the changes around the college football landscape and the college football playoff chances for a one-loss Oregon team.

Plus, a special sit down with Oregon Head Football Coach Mario Cristobal!

Listen:

Oregon WBB starts off signing week with No. 1 recruiting class in 2020

Oregon WBB starts off signing week with No. 1 recruiting class in 2020

The 2020 college basketball season is a year away but for the No. 1 Oregon women’s basketball team and high school seniors across the country, the future started on Wednesday.

The Ducks are probably used to the “No. 1” wording: the No. 1 ranking in the nation; the No. 1 player in the nation in Sabrina Ionescu; and now the No. 1 recruiting class for the 2020 season.

Yesterday, five of the top 33 players in high school hoops signed their National Letters of Intent to join Coach Kelly Graves and the Oregon program.

These players include: Sydney Parrish (a 6-foot, five-star shooting guard from Indiana); Kylee Watson (a 6-foot-3 five-star forward from New Jersey); Maddie Scherr (a 5-foot-11 five-star guard from Kentucky); Angela Dugalic (a 6-foot-4 five-star forward from Illinois); and Te-Hina Paopao (a 5-foot-9 five-star guard from California).

Not to be overlooked, Graves’ elite recruiting has an impact all over the country. Only Paopao is from the west coast. 

222 days ago when Ionescu wrote a letter to Ducks Nation in the Players’ Tribune, she stated that Oregon was building something special. Although Ducks fans are witnessing greatness from Ionescu and for just this final season, the program is sustaining itself for the post-Ionescu (and Ruthy Hebard) era. It just goes to show that she was right; that Oregon is a prestigious basketball program that isn’t run by just one individual. The Ducks have gone from under 1,000 fans attending their games in 2014 to now season tickets being limited ahead of the 2019 season.

The Oregon Ducks aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

MORE ON THE DUCKS

How Oregon can beat Arizona to become kings of the North

Dana Altman will unleash the freshmen soon

The magic number for Oregon vs. Arizona

How Oregon can beat Arizona to become kings of the North

How Oregon can beat Arizona to become kings of the North

No. 6 Oregon (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) is on track to the Pac-12 Conference Title game and in the running as a College Football Playoff contender. Coming off a bye, a Duck win this Saturday vs. Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) would clinch their third North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship.

Numbers to know: In the last 12 games between Oregon and Arizona, the Ducks are 7-0 when scoring more than 40 points per game and 0-5 when scoring less than 40.

Fun factOregon leads the nation with 17 interceptions, which is the program's most through nine games since 1988. The Ducks' 11.78 points off turnovers per game ranks second in the country and is a major contributing factor in the Ducks’ eight-game winning streak.

Betting line: Oregon opened as 26.5 point favorites over Arizona, which marks the Ducks’ sixth straight home game as a double-digit favorite.

Players to keep an eye on

Running back J.J. Taylor

With 3,108 career rushing yards, J.J. Taylor has the 12th most rushing yards by any active Division I player. He has also moved up to No. 6 on Arizona's career rushing list and is 56 yards away from passing Mike Bell for fifth all-time.  

Oregon had no answer for Taylor in last season’s Arizona win, rushing for 212 yards on 30 carries and two touchdowns against UO. Taylor has 566 yards and five touchdowns this season.

Linebacker Colin Schooler

Schooler has 42 career tackles-for-loss, which is tied for fourth-most by an active Division I player. His 37 career solo tackles for loss are second-most nationally by an active player and the most by a linebacker.

What’s the deal at quarterback?

Oregon is preparing for both true senior Khalil Tate and freshman Grant Gunnell. Tate has started in Arizona’s last four games (all loses) but has split time with Gunnel in all of those starts.

Tate has passed for 6,001 yards in his career, which ranks sixth-most in program history. The senior is erratic at times and sensational at times. Gunnell has completing 66.4 percent of his passes this year, which currently ranks as the best ever by an Arizona freshman quarterback.

3 keys to an Oregon victory

Playing with passion, not emotion

Arizona has beaten Oregon in each of the past three matchups where the Wildcats enter unranked and the Ducks enter ranked. The Wildcats upset No. 19 Oregon last season. With redemption on the horizon, the Ducks must play with focused passion instead of blurred vengeance. Coming off a bye week, it’d be easy for Oregon to lose the positive momentum of its eight-game winning streak. Those uncharacteristic penalties must be eliminated. Staying disciplined and setting the tone early is important for an Oregon victory.

Limit big Wildcat plays

Arizona has had five plays go for 70 or more yards this season. Only Oklahoma State, Alabama, Colorado State and UCF have more. The Wildcats’ total offense (495.8 yards per game) ranks second in the Pac-12 and 12th in the country. The Duck defense must limit Arizona’s receivers and Taylor to short plays to keep this potential season altering upset at bay.

Let Herbert loose

Fresh off a three-touchdown pass performance against USC, Herbert’s elite arm should light up a suspect Arizona defense. Herbert connected on 20 of his final 21 passes after starting the game 1-for-5 and tacked on a rushing touchdown. Now, it’s time to build on that dominance this Saturday. I expect Herbert to continue to find wide receiver Juwan Johnson, continuing to bloom their explosive chemistry.

Fun fact, Oregon is averaging 44.2 points per game in Justin Herbert's 20 career starts (17-3) at Autzen Stadium.

How and where to watch

Time: Saturday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m. (PT)

Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon

TV: ESPN

Radio: KUGN-AM (590), KUJZ-FM (95.3), KZEL-FM (96.1)

Dana Altman will unleash the freshmen soon

Dana Altman will unleash the freshmen soon

The No. 14 Oregon Ducks defeated the No. 13 Memphis Tigers at the inaugural Phil Knight Invitational 82-74 at Moda Center.

After the game, Oregon head coach Dana Altman discussed how he thinks the freshmen are coming along.

As the season goes on and they get more comfortable... their talent will come through...so as the season progresses and they get more experience, I’ll be a bit more comfortable [to play them more].

Altman relied mostly on his returning players against the Tigers because they had been there before. He specifically cited sophomores Will Richardson and Francis Okoro as players who learned what it took to win last season and how he hopes that rubs off on this freshman class as the year progresses.

You can watch Altman’s full evaluation of the freshmen in the video above.

Instant Analysis: Ducks hold off Tigers in Phil Knight Invitational opener

Instant Analysis: Ducks hold off Tigers in Phil Knight Invitational opener

The No. 14 Oregon Ducks defeated the No. 13 Memphis Tigers 82-74 at the Moda Center to open the Phil Knight Invitational, led by Shakur Juiston, the Ducks used their experience to outplay the young Tigers. 

Here are some takeaways from the game.

Ducks’ defense as stingy as ever

The Ducks played defense out of their patented 2-3 match-up zone and a three-quarter-court press. They funneled all actions into the teeth of the defense, contested each shot and lived with the results. It's a formula that has done wonders for Altman’s teams. Against a young team like Memphis that starts five freshmen, it sped them up and forced them to rush outside shots or just lose the ball. In the first half alone, Memphis had eight turnovers and air balled multiple three pointers. 

Sloppy play lets Memphis linger around

All eyes going into the game were on James Wiseman. However, the freshman phenom and potential first overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft picked up two quick fouls and sat the remainder of the first half. The Ducks used that time to take a double-digit lead before losing it to trail late in the half. Whenever the teams played in the half court, the Ducks looked vastly superior. But the Ducks turned the ball over 11 times in the first half leading to 20 Memphis points. When teams are struggling, especially missing their best player, the Ducks need to finish the game right there and not let the opponent linger around.

Memphis would go on to open the second half of a 14-7 run to take a one point advantage. The Ducks would respond, but, should never have been in that position to begin with.

The local kids are game changers

The last time Payton Pritchard and Anthony Mathis shared a backcourt while attending West Linn high school, they won back-to-back-to-back state championships. They’re looking to continue that championship streak this season in the form of a Pac-12 title, or something greater.

Their chemistry and compatibility has been evident this season. Pritchard entered the season a preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 player of the year, and Mathis was supposed to supply scorching shooting. They have both delivered on their expectations, so far. Pritchard always looks to be in command of the game, especially against a young team like Memphis. Mathis shot the three well, making four of five three-point attempts en route to 12 points. 

Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers in action at the Phil Knight Invitational, follow along on social

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USATI

Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers in action at the Phil Knight Invitational, follow along on social

Tonight is the second interation Phil Knight Invitational at the Moda Center. The first, PK80, was held in November 2017. 

The action will tip off at 6:00pm PST with the No. 13 Memphis Tigers playing the No. 14 Oregon Ducks in a matchup of ranked teams. 

The headliner will be Memphis center James Wiseman who may go first overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, and was recently declared ineligible by the NCAA. Memphis believes their decision is wrong and will be playing him anyways while the matter gets settled in court.

The Ducks return Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate Payton Pritchard at point guard and will field other notable transfers. They will be without freshman center N’Faly Dante who’s ineligible for the first nine games of the season since he cannot enroll at the University of Oregon until December 14th. In addition, starting center Francis Okoro got hit by a car last week in Eugene and his status for today’s contest in unknown.

The second matchup will be between the Oklahoma Sooners and Oregon State Beavers and tipoff following Oregon-Memphis concludes (approx. 8pm).

The Sooners were picked to finish eighth in the Big-12 this season in the preseason media poll but can easily outplay expectations. The Beavers return senior Tres Tinkle who also is a Pac-12 player of the year candidate. In Vegas, the Beavers are slight underdogs but have enough talent to win. 

Dylan Mickanen will be on site reporting on both games. Feel free to follow along on social as well.