In the 333rd rendition of the hardwood version of the Civil War, it was mostly Oregon State as the Beavers pulled away in the second half to win their second straight over the Ducks, 62-42, at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
Employing their stifling 1-3-1 half-court zone press, it was the Beavers doing the trapping once again. And it was once again too much for the Ducks. Oregon shot a paltry 29.8% from the field, including 11.8% from behind the arc, proving once again Oregon State is simply a bad match-up for Oregon.
It appeared the Ducks had figured out the Beavers' zone when the momentum shifted to Oregon on E.J. Singler's three-pointer with about six minutes to play in the first half, putting the Ducks up one. But with the game tied at 22, the Beavers used a 10-3 run to close the first half, and never looked back, outscoring Oregon 30-17 in the second half.
I think it's natural to look at this game as another setback for Oregon, but I think it's more accurate to view it as a bad match-up. The Beavers' stingy defense has twice stunted the Ducks, completely taking them out of their transition game and causing them to turn the ball over and force highly contested shots. It also didn't help that Oregon shot a mere 60% from the free throw line.
Let's take a look at the keys to the game:
Take care of the ball to defeat the 1-3-1 defense
The Ducks turned the ball over 16 times, one less than the Beavers and three more times than their conference average (13.4). They needed to reduce this total to have a shot at winning, although Oregon State's 17 turnovers make it more or less a moot point.
No easy buckets
It seemed the Ducks were stepping up on defense, when Michael Dunigan had three blocks in a span of two possessions. But that wasn't the story for much of the game. Oregon's 2-3 match-up zone in the first half led to a too many easy hoops for the Beavs. The Beavers finished the game shooting 50% from the field.
Rebound, rebound, rebound
Oregon was out-rebounded 29-24. However, the Ducks did manage to haul in 10 offensive boards to the Beavers' 5. Of course, that has more to do with Oregon's poor shooting performance than it does their rebounding ability. Simply put, Oregon needs to do a better job rebounding the ball, especially against teams that play tough defense.
With eight games remaining, half of which are at Mac Court, the Ducks certainly have their work cut out for them. They currently trail the first-place Cal Bears by three games. I think it's fair to say the Ducks will need to win at least six of their last eight to win the conference. But more importantly is Oregon's ability to close the second half of Pac-10 play with momentum. This Oregon team is one of the conference's streakiest, and with a little mo heading into the Pac-10 Tournament, the Ducks could turn some heads and still vy for a postseason tournament spot.