Pac-12 Tournament

Resilient Ducks only one win away from clinching the Pac-12 Tournament title

Resilient Ducks only one win away from clinching the Pac-12 Tournament title

LAS VEGAS - In their third night game in as many days, the Ducks began fresher than ever.  Oregon came out with energy and a zip that many of us only feel after a double shot of espresso.

Oregon (22-12, 10-8 Pac-12) had complete control of the first 20 minutes but, similar to a caffeine overdose, crashed in the second half, only to re-emerge to force overtime and upset second-seeded Arizona State.

"Our whole season was on the line,” Ehab Amin said. "As a senior it was super emotional for me”.

With the 79-75 victory over Arizona State (22-10, 12-6), Oregon is only one win away from clinching the Pac-12 Tournament title and the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Oregon is riding a seven-game winning streak, their longest streak of the season, into the championship game versus top-seeded Washington.

Colorado, also as the six seed, is the only team to win four straight tournament games and claim a tournament title, accomplishing the feat in 2012.

The victory also etches Oregon coach Dana Altman in the history books; Altman passed Arizona’s Sean Miller for the most Pac-12 tournament wins with 18.

The 8:50pm tipoff started with Kenny Wooten blocking Arizona State’s first two shots, which would foreshadow Oregon’s domination in the first half.

When the Sun Devils made mistakes, Oregon made them pay. In the first half alone, the Ducks scored 15 points off of ASU’s seven turnovers.

Paul White and Payton Pritchard also made their presence known early. Oregon’s veterans refused to let Oregon go down without a fight; White (14 points), Pritchard (18 points), Amin (13 points) combined for 45 points.

Pritchard added eight assists, passing Johnathan Loyd (458-2010-14), for fifth in UO career assists.

However, it was Louis King who led the team with 19 points and who changed the game. The freshman willed the Ducks out of 1 of 11 scoring drought in the second half. He rattled off nine straight points to put Oregon back in striking distance.

The Ducks’ aggressive defensive play continued in the extremely physical game. UO blocked seven shots in the first half and finished with 10.

Missed free throw attempts almost killed Oregon, going 13-24 at the line.

With the end of regulation counting down, back-to-back three-pointers by White and Amin tied the game to force overtime.

Oregon outscored ASU 8-1 to open overtime, beginning with a gnarly Wooten dunk. The Ducks never lost the lead. 

"We never count ourselves out,” White said. "We are grateful for how good we are playing, but we're not done”. 

Who knows where Oregon found the energy, but suddenly the Ducks in the Big Dance seems incredibly possible. The Pac-12 Championship game between Oregon and Washington will be played at 7:30 p.m., Saturday.

The Oregon State Cinderella story vanished just as quickly as it arrived

The Oregon State Cinderella story vanished just as quickly as it arrived

LAS VEGAS - With the Pac-12 Tournament wide open, it appeared this season could be Oregon State’s chance to take the crown. The Beavers (18-13, 10-8 Pac-12) earned a coveted first round bye, finished with their best conference record since the 1989-90 season and had a veteran team full of playmakers. Alas, the Oregon State Cinderella story vanished just as quickly as it arrived, losing to Colorado, 73-58, in the quarterfinals.

Also maybe gone? Oregon State’s chances of making the NIT tournament. The Beavers were a bubble team and a win over fifth-seeded Colorado (21-11, 10-8)  would have been a good and needed resume boost. Instead, the Beavers depart Las Vegas with Selection Sunday outcome looking gloom and out of their hands. If the CBI Tournament calls, OSU could accept an invitation to the smaller postseason tournament. 

Following the loss, OSU coach Wayne Tinkle held out hope for the NIT, “We’ll see,” Tinkle said. “My take is; if it’s the right situation, these guys have had a remarkable year and have earned an opportunity… But we’ll take that as it comes down the road.” 

Seems a shame that a season full of highs should end abruptly in Las Vegas during OSU’s first game that showcased many lows. Oregon State’s 18 first half points were the lowest of the season and its five total assists were also a low. The Beavers did not make a three pointer in the first half, despite the nine attempts from beyond the arc.

Another low; Fourth-seeded OSU was the first higher seeded team to be “upset” in the conference tournament.

OSU trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half but roared out of the locker room after halftime, coming to life for a second half comeback that would eventually fall short. The Beavers cut the deficit to six points with two 10-0 runs and exciting play from Tres Tinkle, Ethan Thompson and Stephan Thompson Jr., all which reached double-digit scoring marks.

Tinkle led the Beavers with 23 points, his fifth-consecutive game scoring 20-plus.

Colorado took back the momentum, extended its winning streak to five games, and eliminated the Beavers.

"They came out and made shots, got confident and we just didn't really do much to try to stop it," Tinkle said. 

The Cinderella story quickly turned scary; The Beavers' flat start doomed them from the start and sent them packing back to Corvallis.

Oregon beats WSU with a deep tournament run recipe

Oregon beats WSU with a deep tournament run recipe

LAS VEGAS - Former Oregon basketball star and current Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks sat courtside with Oregon fans surrounding him, laughing at the Duck mascot, analyzing the game and clapping when former teammate Payton Pritchard scored a bucket.

The Oregon men’s basketball team looks a lot different from the 2016-17 season, when Brooks and UO made it to the Final Four. However, the two teams share one important similarity; The Ducks won and will advance in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Oregon crushed Washington State 84-51 in the first round and will face third-seeded Utah in the quarterfinals on Thursday night. The Ducks extended their winning streak to five games and will need to win three more in as many days to be crowned as Pac-12 Tournament champions, which earns the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Winning four games in four days is a tall task that’s only been accomplished in the conference tournament once when Colorado claimed the crown as the sixth seed in 2012.

The Ducks beat the Cougars with a recipe that could prove vital for a deep tournament run; stout defense and dependable bench play.

UO’s defense continued to be excellent. The Ducks forced 20 turnovers, with 26 points off those turnovers and outrebounded the Cougars 41-33. The victory also marked the first time in the shot clock era (1985-86 to present) that Oregon has held five-consecutive opponents to less than 62 points.

Oregon held the conference's leading scorer, WSU senior Robert Franks, to only eight points. Franks was coming off a career-high 37 points against Oregon State on senior night. 

Pritchard's three steals moved him to third in UO career steals with 156 total.

"The guys are being real active," coach Dana Altman said. "There is a lot more communication. They are a lot more connected, covering up mistakes for each other. I always thought we had the potential to be a good defensive team.”

UO’s bench play was outstanding, scoring 46 points. Yes, you read that correctly.

Oregon reserves lead the team; Ehab Amin scored 17 points, Will Richardson scored 10 points and Miles Norris added a career-high 14 points.

With only nine scholarship players, Oregon couldn’t fully rest its starters, but was able to limit its minutes; Not a single Duck played over 24 minutes.

Oregon’s confidence is soaring and the team is as healthy as it has been, but blowing out Washington State falls short of the Ducks' goal.

"We have to focus on Utah," senior Paul White said. "We don't get a tournament bid or anything from beating Washington State by 33. So I think right now it's about leaving this game behind us and applying it to Utah".

With postseason hopes on the line, the question remains; Will there be enough in the tank tomorrow vs. Utah and then for two more days after that? Can the Ducks repeat as Pac-12 Tournament champions for the first time since the 2015-16 season? 

Will Oregon State's record season lead to the Pac-12 Tournament crown?

Will Oregon State's record season lead to the Pac-12 Tournament crown?

Records: Oregon State (18-12, 10-6 Pac-12), Colorado (10-8, 20-11 Pac-12)

The fourth-seeded Beavers earned a coveted first-round bye in the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament. Oregon State will face No. 5 seed Colorado, who beat No. 12 seed California 56-54 in the first round on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals.

Why watch?  The winner of the Pac-12 Tournament gets the conference’s automatic bid to the to NCAA Tournament. Since any team can get hot in the tournament… Will it be OSU who takes the crown and heads to the big dance?

The Beavers are having a record season and have some of the Pac-12's veteran playmakers, including redshirt junior Tres Tinkle, who was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team earlier this week. Oregon State finished with its best conference record since the 1989-90 season, earning the highest seed in the tournament since that season.

On the line: Most projections have OSU on the outside of the NIT Tournament. A win over Colorado would boost Oregon State’s resume and likely send them back into the NIT field, so the season doesn’t end in Las Vegas.

In regular season: Oregon State played Colorado one time this season and won 76-74 on Jan. 31 on the road in Boulder, CO.

Fun Fact: Colorado coach Tad Boyle is the only Pac-12 coach to win four straight tournament games and claim a tournament title, accomplishing the feat in 2012.

Top Beavers:

Tres Tinkle is on fire, scoring 20-plus points in four consecutive games and posting four double-doubles in the last six games. He’s been particularily dangerous from beyond the arc in the last four games, shooting 50.0 percent (12-for-24) from three-point range. The redshirt junior finished second in the Pac-12 in scoring (21.4) in conference games.

Colorado will have its hands full with junior forward Kylor Kelley, who leads the Pac-12 and is second in the nation in blocked shots per game (3.4).

When senior Stephen Thompson Jr. goes, the Beavers go. OSU is 17-7 when he scores in double figures and 1-5 when he scores less than 10 points.

Buffs to keep an eye on

The win over Cal extends Colorado's winning streak to four games, which much thanks to sophomores Tyler Bey and McKinley Wright IV, both of whom earned first-team all-conference honors earlier this week.

Bey was also named the conference's Most Improved Player. He leads Colorado at 13.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game while shooting 56 percent from the field. He is the co-leader in the Pac-12 in double-doubles with 14.

Wright is averaging 13.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while leading the Buffaloes in assists (142) and steals (33). 

How and where to watch

Time: Thursday, March 14, 2:30 p.m

Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada

TV: Pac-12 Networks


Oregon spoils Washington's perfect home season record

Oregon spoils Washington's perfect home season record

Oregon basketball closed the curtain on the 2018-19 regular season by spoiling Washington’s 16-0 home winning streak and what would have been the Huskies first undefeated season at home since 2004-05. The Ducks beat the Pac-12 champions, 55-47, on their senior night at Alaska Airlines Arena in front of a sell out crowd of 10,000.

Oregon will be the six seed in the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, facing No 11 seeded Washington State at 8:30pm on Wednesday. The Ducks will need to win four games in a row to be Pac-12 Tournament champions and earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"They know the tournament is right around the corner, they know we want to finish strong," said Altman. “We're playing for momentum.”

The Ducks got off to a great start against rival UW, leading 27-18 at halftime with much thanks to winning the rebounding battle, points in the paint, scoring points off turnovers and senior Paul White’s 10 first half points.

However, then the Ducks open the second half with three straight bad passes and allowed Washington to close the deficit to 27-22.

The Ducks struggled from three-point range, shooting 18 percent from the arc.

But the Huskies struggled even worse offensively, shooting 33 percent from the field, 15 percent from three-point range.

Washington's Jaylen Nowell wasn’t going to let UW go down without a fight. He led all shooters with 17 points.

Payton Pritchard moved into the UO top five in career steals. His finished with five steals tonight, 153 for his career, surpassing Luke Ridnour (150/2000-03), who was in attendance tonight. Pritchard led the Ducks with16 points.
The Ducks have won four straight games for the first time this season in conference play. With the tournament looming, Oregon is peaking at the right time.

Oregon basketball's season finale: A perfect time to peak

Oregon basketball's season finale: A perfect time to peak

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.