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Oregon Opens Pac-12 Tournament Against Washington State

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NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

A chance at redemption comes Wednesday evening for the Oregon Ducks as the Pac-12 Tournament begins in Las Vegas. After a letdown performance in Pullman, the Ducks will look to right the ship and have a better outing against the Washington State Cougars.

Oregon’s opportunity to make five-straight NCAA Tournament appearances hangs in the balance this week. For the Ducks, the Pac-12 Tournament title is their only shot at making the big dance. Inconsistent play throughout conference games has kept the Ducks from making a case despite a recent overtime victory against Arizona.

The road to the Pac-12 championship game appears favorable for Oregon. A win against the Cougars will set up a contest with Utah in the next round. USC would likely come next and could go either way as both teams went down to the wire in the two games this season.

For now, a bitter taste needs removal, as the Ducks will expect a different outcome against the Cougars. Oregon had an opportunity to be one of the hotter teams heading into the Pac-12 Tournament. After sweeping the Arizona schools at home, the Ducks could have been riding a winning streak with a sweep of the Washington schools on the roads.

Instead, the Ducks could not put away the Cougars in critical moments, falling 78-76. Payton Pritchard could have been the hero, but his three-pointer to win missed.

For consolation, the Ducks managed to earn a series sweep, defeating the Huskies in Seattle to conclude the regular season.

If the Ducks want an automatic seed to the NCAA Tournament, strong play from Pritchard, Elijah Brown, and Troy Brown is needed every game. Pritchard is at his best when his teammates are hitting shots, allowing him to drive lanes and either pass or shoot.

Paul White and MiKyle McIntosh have made significant impacts off the bench this season for Oregon. Both must be X-factors for the Ducks to win the conference tournament crown.

Defensively, Kenny Wooten must bring the block party from Eugene to Las Vegas. The Ducks need solid defense from their big man as he often does not factor into games on the road. Oregon’s biggest strength is holding opponents to 70 points per game. The Ducks’ chances of winning are higher with exceptional defensive outings.

Tipoff begins at 8:30 p.m. PST with a telecast on the Pac-12 Networks.