Oregon Ducks (21-7, 10-5)
- Head Coach: Dana Altman (10th Season)
- Top Performer: Payton Pritchard (20.1 PPG, 5.5 APG)
- Points For: 75.5 PPG (78th)
- Points Against: 67.6 PPG (130th)
- Last Game/Streak: 73-72 OT Win at Arizona (W1)
And so they meet again.
The two oldest rivals in college basketball will take the floor on Thursday night in Eugene for the bragging rights as the best team in the Beaver State on the line. The second installation this season of their regularly played rivalry game will have large implications for Oregon, who sit just a half-game back of Arizona State for first place in the Pac-12.
Somehow, I have a strong feeling that the Beavers will want nothing more than to spoil their chances.
As sick of Ducks fans likely are of hearing about Tres Tinkle is comparable to Beaver Nation’s distaste for Oregon point guard Payton Pritchard (20.1 PPG), who at the moment is contending with TInkle for the league’s best talent.
A stable veteran who always is on the verge of a career night, the West Linn product dropped 38 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in their overtime win at Arizona and has been playing at an elite level, averaging 27 points per game over his last three contests. However, Pritchard had an inefficient outing last time against Oregon State, shooting just 7-21 from the field, but still finishing with 16 points and 9 assists.
The Beavers will want to somehow do even better to contain Oregon’s star this time around.
Around Pritchard, JUCO transfer Chris Duarte (12.9 PPG) has continued to develop into his comfort zone at the Division I level, finding more ways not only to score, but to help his team in the larger thick of things. Fellow guard Will Richardson (10.7 PPG) has been really impressive as a second option to operate the offense at times and Anthony Mathis (7.9 PPG), a high school teammate of Pritchard’s, has found more of a reliable touch. Even Addison Patterson (4.2 PPG) has found more minutes, as he’s tallied a combined 24 points over his last three games.
The emergence of a deeper core of guards has opened things up on the inside for the Ducks, who will need their bigs to make some marginal gains if they want to be playing basketball still at this time next month. Shakur Juiston (8.0 PPG) is featured below in our Player To Watch as a formidable, bruising talent, but without seven-footer N’Faly Dante (6.2 PPG) in the line-up over the past month, the remaining group of Chandler Lawson (4.5 PPG), CJ Walker (4.3 PPG) and Francis Okoro (3.5 PPG) will see more regular time.
Overall, let’s do what we always do with Oregon and Oregon State. Throw out the record books. Throw out the past history. Throw out the individual match-ups. Throw it all away. When two rivals who are meeting now for the 354th time get together, it simply comes down to who wants it more and who is willing to make the winning plays at the end of the day.
Player To Watch
Shakur Juiston (Forward - Senior)
The former UNLV Runnin’ Rebel is not the guy that first comes to mind when you think about Oregon, but he’s the player the Ducks will need more out of, if they want to make a mid-March run. A fearless competitor on the boards, Juiston is beginning to score the ball on more than just hustle plays and drop-offs. The 6’ 7”, 225 pounder will be a tough match-up on the interior.
- Date: Thursday, February 27th
- Time: 8:00 PM PT
- Location: Matthew Knight Arena (Eugene, OR)
- Coverage: ESPN2