Eugene, OR – Coming off a terrible 35-point loss to Stanford the Oregon Ducks needed to win both their home games this week against Washington and Washington State to retain their minimal chances at an at-large spot in is season’s NCAA Tournament. They did that as they came up with two good performances defeating Washington 65-40 and Washington State 84-57.
Against the Huskies the Ducks came up with an outstanding defensive effort in holding Washington to 27.8 percent shooting including 17.6 percent (3-of-17) on three-pointers. In the second half the Huskies shot only 25 percent and were 0-of-7 from distance. The defense was centered by a resurgence of 6-9 freshman center Kenny Wooten. Wooten’s effectiveness has tailed during the Pac-12 potion of the schedule. Against the Huskies Wooten blocked seven shots, several of them spectacularly, in 21 minutes of play. He effected many other shots as Washington reluctantly attacked the basket with Wooten in the game. He added 12 points and seven rebounds to his blocks.
Freshman Troy Brown Jr. also showed renewed effectiveness. Brown, much hyped coming into the year, has been struggling finding a role on the team, particularly on offense. In this game he showed renewed aggression and led the game with 21 points on 8-of-12 from the field. He scored 16 of Oregon’s 28 first-half points. Payton Pritchard has one of his more effective games running the point. Pritchard only scored 12 points but garnered eight assists against zero turnovers. The Ducks turned the game into a rout with a 17-2 run in the game’s last six minutes. Washington, a surprise NCAA bubble team, fell off the bubble for the time being as they followed the Oregon loss with a double-overtime defeat at the hands of Oregon State.
Oregon had more of a team effort in the Washington State win. The Cougars were playing without their leading scorer Robert Franks (17.9 ppg) but still managed to keep the game relatively close though most of the game. The Ducks held a ten-point lead (38-28) at halftime helped by 11 points and five assists from Pritchard. The Cougars cut the lead to 46-41 on two baskets from 6-8 North Dakota transfer Drick Bernstine. That was as close as they would get as Oregon extended the lead to 55-44 on a four-point play by Victor Bailey Jr. (13 points) at the under-12 media timeout. They subsequently brought the lead to 15 points on a steal and three-point play by Brown Jr. and extended the lead from there. Pritchard was impressive again with 19 points, ten assists and only two turnovers. Brown Jr. put together another solid effort with 16 points, ten rebounds, three assists and five steals and Wooten added 10 points and eight rebounds to go along with his three blocked shots. MiKyle McIntosh hit two three’s and scored 13 points.
Oregon’s (17-8, 7-5) path doesn’t get any easier in their next four games as they head to Los Angeles to face USC and UCLA followed by a visit to Eugene by the Arizona schools. The Ducks will somehow need to at least spilt those games to continue any NCAA tournament consideration.
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