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:
NUMBERS TO KNOW
POINTS PER GAME
Oregon - 85.9
Stanford - 75.9
Oregon - 28.8
Stanford - 16.7
REBOUNDS PER GAME
Oregon - 40.3
Stanford - 42.3
ASSISTS PER GAME
Oregon - 21.0
Stanford - 15.4
KEYS TO AN OREGON VICTORY
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