Oregon Ducks (18-5, 7-3)
- Head Coach: Dana Altman (10th Season)
- Top Performer: Payton Pritchard (19.6 PPG, 5.8 APG)
- Points For: 76.8 PPG (63rd)
- Points Against: 67.7 PPG (137th)
- Last Game/Streak: 70-60 Loss at Stanford (1L)
With the Oregon State program sitting at a crossroads and Wayne Tinkle’s job status potentially hanging in the balance, the last thing the Beavers will likely want to see across from them on Saturday is arch rival Oregon.
The Ducks currently sit alone in first place of the Pac-12 standings, a half-game above Colorado and USC, both of whom have played one less contest. They’re led by arguably the league’s most consistent and talented player in point guard Payton Pritchard (19.6 PPG) and no other team in the league can match their recent string of late-season success, as they’ve found their way to at least the Sweet 16 in three of the last four campaigns.
It’s that kind of dominance from the Ducks that begs the question to be asked, how exactly can Oregon State engineer an upset in this showdown on Saturday?
Obviously, Pritchard is the engine that makes Oregon go on both sides of the ball, but the development of the pieces around him have really been the key to Dana Altman’s team blossoming into a Top 15 squad. Fellow guard Chris Duarte (14.3 PPG) is as legitimate of a second option as any team could have and that’s mainly the reason he’s featured as our Player To Watch below.
Will Richardson (10.2 PPG) is another 6’ 5” off-ball type of talent who has been playing an improved quality in his last three contests, averaging 16.0 PPG through that span, and beyond him, the depth at the guard spot just continues and continues. A pair of Mountain West transfers in Anthony Mathis (8.0 PPG) from New Mexico and Shakur Juiston (7.8 PPG) from UNLV are both capable of more in terms of production, but aren’t as needed with the bulk of the minutes filled before them.
Up-front, somehow Altman once again managed to fill in the pieces, as he cycles through a primarily three-to-four man front-court, which still includes injured center N’Faly Dante (6.2 PPG), who could miss this game with a knee injury. However, in his absence, fellow rookies C.J. Walker (5.1 PPG), Chandler Lawson (4.9 PPG) and Francis Okoro (3.5 PPG) have picked up the slack, as the only true height available on the roster.
So when it comes down to it, what do we really know that the Beavers need to do to beat the Ducks? It’s not hard to see that with a lack of true post options, Oregon State needs to live through Tres Tinkle and Kylor Kelley inside and maybe focus on playing more inside-out basketball to combat the wealth of perimeter defenders the Ducks will have. They also will need to keep Oregon out of transition and control the tempo of the game into their favor.
But maybe the biggest thing that Oregon State needs to do is to simply feed off the energy of what should be a raucous crowd at Gill and understand the task that sits before them. The season is not completely lost yet and when it hits that point, a lot more than a letdown campaign could be tagged along with the memories of this year. For players, coaches and fans alike, that’s the last thing anyone wants to see. The Beavers need to grasp the moment and turn the Pac-12 on it’s head once again this season.
Player To Watch
Chris Duarte (Guard - Junior)
The junior college transfer from Northwest Florida State has been on a tear for the Ducks as of late, averaging 21.8 points and 7.3 rebounds over his last four games, three of which has been victories for Oregon. He was named the NJCAA Player of the Year last season and as he continues to get more comfortable in his role alongside Pritchard, he’s becoming the second option needed to balance out the Ducks offense.
- Date: Saturday, February 8th
- Time: 7:30 PM PT
- Location: Gill Coliseum (Corvallis, OR)
- Coverage: Pac-12 Network