After Rivalry Turbulence, Ducks Prepare to Fly into Madness

Jordan Ingram Editorials

Losing to your in-state rival sucks. Every time. Always. And it was especially disappointing for the Oregon Ducks (20-6, 14-4 Pac-12), who were red-hot and rolling on a six-game win streak to fall flat against a very eager and energized Oregon State Beavers (16-12, 10-10 Pac-12) team in a Pac-12 Tournament semifinal matchup Friday night.

It’s hard to hit the brakes in March when your team has been flying at cruising altitude since early February. After drubbing the Washington Huskies 86-74 on Feb. 6 in Eugene, the Ducks went 10-1 in the final 11 games of the regular season. Throw in a 93-71 rout of the Arizona State Sun Devils in the quarterfinals of the conference tourney and the Ducks appeared to be an unstoppable basketball juggernaut headed for a deep playoff run on the national stage.

Then came some heavy turbulence — a Beaver-buzzsaw that brought their momentum crashing back down to Earth.

Oregon State just outplayed us,” UO head coach Dana Altman told Rob Moseley of UO Athletics.They outworked us right from the start. Outrebounded us; much more energy than what we had. I knew they’d come after us, I tried to express that to our team. But we were just stuck in the mud from the start.

Eugene Johnson

The Ducks were flying high before losing to the Beavers on Friday night.

Oregon’s three leading scorers — Chris Duarte, Eugene Omoruyi, LJ Figueroa — were all held to 14 points each, nearly three points below the season average of 16.7 points per game for both Duarte and Omoruyi. The Ducks went 23 of 55 on field goals for an average of 42%, their lowest field goal percentage since their 72-58 loss to the USC Trojans on Feb. 22 in Los Angeles. The Ducks were even more disappointing from beyond the arc, going just 6 of 25 (or 24%).

By any measure, it was just a bad day at the office for the Ducks. Yes, losing stinks, but it’s time to move on. The good news? This season has brought more highlights than low points. For starters, the loss against OSU was one of their worst performances of the year and far below Oregon’s talent and skill level.

Secondly, the Ducks are the regular-season Pac-12 champs, almost certainly destined for a decent seed (projected at No. 8) in the upcoming NCAA Tournament bracket selection on Sunday.  Senior Chris Duarte was also just named Pac-12 Player of the Year by the Associated Press, becoming the second straight Oregon guard to earn the prestigious award Payton Pritchard won last year. Duarte is the 7th player in program history to be named Pac-12 Player of the Year, joining Pritchard, Dillon Brooks (2016-17), Joe Young (2014-15), Ron Lee (1975-76), Terrell Brandon (1990-91), and Luke Ridnour (2002-03).

If you’re a Ducks fan, there is still a lot to be excited about. Perhaps a screeching halt was just what the Ducks needed before entering the Big Dance. Please fasten your seatbelts and put your seats and table trays in the upright position for take-off. Enjoy your flight, Oregon fans.

Jordan Ingram
San Diego, California
Top Photo By: Gary Breedlove

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