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Oregon Ducks Control Their Destiny

After UCLA’s win in Tuscon, look who is atop the Pac-12...

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Stanford Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the week, No. 6 Oregon had a tall task ahead of them. Not only did UO have to sweep in the Bay Area, which has been notoriously tough on them. But, the Webfoots also needed No. 5 UCLA to upset No. 4 Arizona at home.

It couldn't have worked out any better.

After completing the Bay Area sweep, the hard part was over. The Ducks defeated California and Stanford by a total of five points. Thanks to Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell’s heroics in each contest, Dana Altman’s crew placed themselves in perfect position.

Yet, Oregon still needed some help from their enemy. And they received it on Saturday evening, during a primetime rematch between the Wildcats and Bruins.

Arizona routed UCLA from the Pauley Pavilion earlier in the season, 96-85. Revenge was definitely on the menu for the California boys this time around.

No. 5 UCLA controlled the first 20 minutes, but allowed their lead to disappear before halftime. The home team led by four points, 43-39, entering the second half of play. But, that is when the Bruin offense took over.

Bryce Alford led the way for UCLA with 15 gigantic points. The son of the head coach was knocking down triples from San Francisco. He concluded the game 3-of-7 from deep.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Arizona
Lonzo Ball and company entered the second half of Saturday’s showdown with Arizona on fire. UCLA overcame a 4-point deficit to win the game by five points, 77-72, from Tuscon. It was Arizona’s first home loss this season.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Freshman of the Year candidate, Lonzo Ball, was equally impressive. The point guard concluded with 11 points, eight dimes, five boards, and two stolen passes. He was instrumental in leading the Bruin offensive charge. He also found a way to navigate around foul trouble.

TJ Leaf was solid as usual with 12 points and seven rebounds. His down low partner, Thomas Welsh, amassed 14 points and eight boards.

Isaac Hamilton was the lone Bruin starter to not record double digits in scoring (8).

However, the player of the night was Aaron Holiday off the bench for UCLA. After not scoring in the first half, Holiday drilled two 3-pointers, alongside 12 points in the second half. It was his contribution that made the difference in the game.

Allonzo Trier was the main cog in the wheel for Arizona. He scored a game-high 28 points, but it wasn’t enough in the end.

Even though the Ducks and Wildcats have identical records, Oregon owns the tiebreaker after their 27-point dismantling of Arizona in Eugene.

Oregon slid up the standings after Arizona’s loss to UCLA, 77-72, on Saturday night.

UO is the lone program in the country to defeat both Arizona and UCLA this year.

With one game remaining in the season for the quack attack, Oregon now controls their own destiny. If the Ducks defeat Oregon State in The Civil War on Saturday afternoon, Oregon will be crowned back-to-back regular season Pac-12 Champions for the first time in school history.

Last time Oregon played OSU, they embarrassed them by 42 at Matthew Knight Arena.

Winning the regular season conference title has its perks, but it could lead to greater accomplishments down the road. With this change atop the conference standings, Oregon now has an opportunity to secure a No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Stanford
Payton Pritchard may be the most unheralded freshman in the Pac-12. Yet, the Oregonian is truly making a difference for the Ducks. The Conference of Champions boasts the best freshman class in the land, minus Josh Jackson of Kansas.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Not only did Arizona lose on Saturday, but No. 1 Gonzaga fell to BYU, 79-71, at home. Everything has suddenly opened up in the college basketball race.

Interestingly enough, Oregon’s longest current win-streak against any program in the country is the Zags. The Ducks have beaten Gonzaga in 15 straight games.

Saturday’s events certainly have made next Saturday in Corvallis that much more interesting. All eyes will be on the Ducks to see if they can capture history for the program, alongside laying the groundwork for a sterling NCAA Tournament journey.

The Pac-12 Tournament will take place the following week. The fun begins in Las Vegas on March 8-11 from the T-Mobile Center. The prestigious No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 would gracefully avoid Arizona and UCLA in the second round, should they win. The top seed could slide into the finals without playing a top team until then.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out in the next few weeks. Nevertheless, it is a lot more comfortable on this side of the fence. The Ducks now control their destiny until the madness of March begins.

Stay tuned to ATQ on Twitter @AddictedToQuack for everything Ducks