Oregon basketball’s regular season finale just became more interesting. On a three-game winning streak, the Ducks (18-12, 9-8 Pac-12) are putting it together just in time and are currently in the running for a first round Pac-12 Tournament bye. Oregon has one final test on their regular season schedule: at Washington.
The Ducks are tied for fifth place in the Pac-12 standings with third and fourth place still wide open. Oregon will need to keep cooking to beat first place Washington (24-6, 15-2) on Saturday night in Seattle.
The recipe for Oregon’s 72-61 road victory over 11th place Washington State on Wednesday night? Upperclassmen Paul White and Payton Pritchard helping Oregon find offensive momentum from the jump, forcing 17 turnovers, scoring 30 points off WSU’s turnovers, shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc, monstrous Kenny Wooten block and 31 bench points.
White scored a career-high 21 points with four three-pointers and a team-high six rebounds.
Oregon’s momentum continues to build with visible improvement of defensive intensity, 50-50 ball fight and sharing the ball on offense.
If Oregon continues this fight, I don’t see why they aren’t contenders in the Pac-12 Tournament, which begins next Wednesday in Las Vegas. The top-four seeds advance to the quarterfinal and only have to win three games to be champions.
The first round bye is historically crucial to victory. Since 2014, the Pac-12 tournament winner has been the one or two seed. The only team to win four games to become champion was Colorado in 2012, as a six seed.
“We don’t have control over it, so we just got to go play. If it happens, it happens but it doesn’t happen if we don’t win on Saturday,” Altman said. “All we need to be focused on is playing well at Washington and find a way to win.”
The Pac-12 standings are a mess and Oregon doesn’t have full control over its destiny but a win on Saturday in Seattle is still up for grabs.