Eugene, OR – The top two teams from the Pac-12 squared off Thursday night in front 9,275 fans at Matthew Knight Arena. The No. 17-ranked Oregon Ducks ended their two game losing skid by rallying from 14 points down to knock off the No. 16-ranked Colorado Buffaloes 68-60. Will Richardson and Payton Pritchard led the Ducks on a 15-2 scoring run in the final 4:38 to seal the win.
It was a tale of two halves for both squads. Colorado went on a 20-0 run in the first half. They forced eight Oregon turnovers and held them scoreless for seven minutes and fifty seconds. This is the third straight game where the Ducks have failed to score a point in nearly a ten minute period. The Buffaloes run began with their leader McKinley Wright IV. He got the mismatch he wanted in back to back possessions, where he drove left then stepped back to hit a three pointer and then a deep two. Wright IV, a junior, shined in the first half as he was in complete control running the offense. The second half was a different story as he shot 0-for-6 recording zero points. He finished the game with eight points (3-of-10 FG), four rebounds and five assists.
Midway through the second half, Colorado was shooting 47 percent from beyond the arc, making 10-of-21 attempts. The hot shooting came from 6-7 junior, D’Shawn Schwartz. Schwartz shot 5-for-8 from the field including hitting three 3s to tally a team high 14 points. He also added five rebounds. The stellar shooting came to a halt when Buffaloes struggled the final ten minutes from the three point line as they missed their final eight shots.
After trailing 35-26 at the half, Oregon used a smaller line-up that included four guards on the court to increase the pressure and tempo. The Ducks slowly chipped away at the lead behind sophomore guard Richardson. He scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half. Down the stretch he was clutch by giving Oregon their first lead since the early stages of the first half. Richardson froze his defender with a hesitation crossover then nailed a three pointer from the top of the key to give the Ducks a 61-58 lead with 3:23 remaining. He followed his three-pointer with a great drive and dish to a wide open Addison Patterson for the slam. Richardson, a combo guard, tied his career high with 21 points (7-of-15 FG) and added a career-high nine rebounds.
Pritchard fired up the crowd with 4:38 remaining by hitting a deep three from the wing with the shot clock winding down to cut the lead to two. The senior finally got back on track after shooting just 12-for-42 in the previous two games. He recorded 15 points (5-for-13 FG), hauled in a career high 11 rebounds and dished out six assists. He sealed the win for Oregon after a steal from Patterson, who immediately threw a laser pass up the court to Pritchard for the wide open lay-in to extend the lead to six with 28 seconds remaining.
The late spark the Ducks were desperately looking for came from the unsung hero who has played a limited role, thus far in the Pac-12 season. A true freshman, Patterson brought energy and tenacity, especially on the defensive end. In 12 minutes of action, Patterson scored six points (3-for-4 FG) and had three steals and two assists. His presence on the court fired up the crowd as he played almost flawless basketball during his time in the game. As a team, Oregon forced 18 turnovers (12 steals) and held the Buffaloes to just two points in the final six minutes.
Evan Battey was a beast in the second half as he tried to fend off the Ducks from staging their late second half comeback. The 6-8, 262-pound sophomore, attacked the hoop often with the understanding that he had a size advantage over the smaller Oregon line-up. He posted 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds. His contributions were needed since leading scorers Wright IV and Tyler Bey were held to just 12 total points. The duo has combined to average 27.4 points per game on the year. Oregon was determined to not have a repeat performance like the two had in Boulder earlier this season. In the end, the Ducks prevailed and snapped the Colorado’s three-game winning streak.
Oregon (19-6, 8-4) will look to get Coach Dana Altman his 665th win, to pass legendary Coach John Wooden on the all-time wins list, when they host Utah (14-10, 5-7) on Sunday. Colorado (19-6, 8-4) will travel north to face Oregon State (15-9, 5-7) Saturday night.
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