The #5 seed Oregon Ducks played some decent basketball for significant parts of their 2nd game in the Pac-12 tournament against the University of Colorado Buffaloes this afternoon. Unfortunately, Oregon’s inconsistency late on both ends of the floor, and a key officials’ decision that went against the Ducks, cost them any chance at keeping the game close enough down the stretch to be able to get the win. Colorado pulled away late to knock Oregon out of the tournament, 80 - 69.
After Oregon missed its first shot inside, Quincy Guerrier got the Ducks on the board, muscling inside for a basket at 18:32. Colorado came right back with a three-pointer to make it 3 - 2 and the game was on. The teams traded baskets repeatedly. Oregon drove the ball into the key on many possessions and had some success making very difficult shots under guard, drawing a foul or kicking the ball out for a 3-point attempt. Franck Kepang’s bucket gave the Ducks a 10 - 9 lead with 13:12 left in the half. That represented the eighth lead change. Oregon would then go on to play its best stretch of basketball in the game. Oregon opened up an 18 - 11 lead over the next 3 minutes, forcing 5 Colorado misses, and scoring on a Guerrier 3, an N’Faly Dante dunk and then a Guerrier layup and free throw. Oregon still led 22 - 16 with 8:29 left, on two Eric Williams, Jr free throws. Colorado began to score the ball inside, and Oregon countered with a Jacob Young drive and layup to maintain the lead at 24 - 18 with 7:41 left, which Oregon followed with a steal on the Buffaloes subsequent possession, forcing a Colorado timeout. The teams missed a combined six consecutive shots, a few of which were point blank until Guerrier was fouled and made one of two free throws to give Oregon its largest lead at 25 - 18 with 6:03 left. It also proved to be Oregon’s high-water mark. Oregon’s offense went stone cold and the defense broke down, allowing Colorado to finish the half on an 18 - 5 run. A possible turning point here was the 2nd foul on Dante, forcing him to the bench with 4:25 left and Oregon still ahead 25 - 21. Colorado promptly hit a three-pointer, and then the Buffs took their first lead (26 - 25 on an inside bucket) since they were ahead 9 - 8 with 14 minutes left in the first half. Oregon then missed a shot and had two turnovers while falling asleep on defense and allowing an uncontested dunk on a pass inside and a Colorado basket inside off an offensive rebound for a 30 - 25 Buffs lead with 2:46 left in the half. Rivaldo Soares hit 2 from the charity stripe, but Colorado hit an uncontested three to lead 30 - 27. Oregon’s final points of the half - and its first field goal in more than 6 minutes - came on a Guerrier driving floater and foul shot, but the Buffaloes hit another uncontested 3-pointer to lead 36 - 30 at the half.
Oregon was led by Guerrier’s 14 points and Young added 6. Dante had 9 rebounds, and Guerrier had 8. Young and Williams had 2 assists apiece. Kepnang had 3 blocked shots. Oregon shot a very poor 27.8 percent from the field, including another horrible 1 - 12 from beyond the 3-point arc. This has been an all-too common stat line for Oregon in first halves the last 10 games. The Ducks made only one of their final 13 shots from the floor in the half and combined the poor shooting with “step slow” defense, giving Colorado many uncontested jump shots and inside baskets over the last 6 minutes.
Colorado shot 34.9 percent and 4-16 from three-point range.
Given the relatively strong showing in yesterday’s game against the Beavers, and the good play of Guerrier and Young in the first half, it was definitely still a game Oregon could win. No question there was tremendous room for improvement in the Ducks play on both ends of the court, especially if Oregon could put together a consistent effort.
For much of the second half, it looked like the Ducks would make something happen. After missing their first two shots, Oregon got a defensive stop and two foul shots from Young cut the Colorado lead to 36 - 32. The Buffs came right back with a 3-pointer to gain their largest advantage at 39 - 32 with 18:43 left, but Oregon rallied outscoring Colorado 7 - 1 over the next 2 minutes to make it a one-point game at 40- 39. Williams hit a jumper, Dante got loose inside again for a dunk and Guerrier hit another three during the sequence. Oregon continued to hang around, only a couple of defensive stops or productive offensive possessions from retaking the lead. The teams traded baskets and free throws and Colorado led only 48 - 45 with 13:31 left after Guerrier hit a short jump hook. Soares hit a three-pointer to make it 50 - 48, but then Dante picked up his 4th foul and had to head to the bench again with 11:54 left in the game. When Dante went to the bench in the first half, Colorado really asserted itself, but when Young made a three-pointer, the Duck deficit was only 2 points at 56 - 54 with 8:46 left. Another Young basket made it 60 - 56 with 7:38 left.
On the next Colorado possession, Oregon forced a missed jumper, gave up the rebound and then forced a missed Buffalo three-point shot. In a key moment as Oregon raced down court, Guerrier was called for an offensive foul as he drove the lane and made a short jumper. The Colorado player who drew the charge moved into Guerrier very slightly and did not allow him a place to come down - but Guerrier was moving forward a bit as well. It was a very close call that left Oregon Coach Dana Altman incensed. After a timeout, Colorado scored a layup and drew a foul on an obviously frustrated Guerrier. The made free throw gave the Buffaloes a 63 - 56 lead with 6:48 to play. Oregon subsequently closed to six on a Williams three, but some of the fight had come out of the Ducks. Colorado hit a completely undefended three to open a 9-point lead with 3:59 left. The closest Oregon could get was an 8-point deficit at 2:15 on a Guerrier three-pointer. Colorado ran clock and Oregon missed 4 more three-pointers as the Buffs closed out the first part of Oregon’s post-season by a final score of 80 - 69.
Quincy Guerrier led the Ducks in a sterling effort with 25 points, and Jacob Young scored 18. Guerrier also snagged 13 rebounds, and N’Faly Dante added 11. Young also had 7 assists and Franck Kepnang 4 blocked shots. As it has in several recent games, Oregon improved its shooting in the 2nd half, finishing at 34.8 percent from the field and went 7 - 15 from beyond the arc in the 2nd half to finish at 8 - 27. The Ducks have proven themselves to be a weirdly streaky shooting team, where the streaks seem to last an entire half especially on treys. Too often over the past month or so, when Oregon needed a stop or a key basket to change a game’s momentum they came up short.
Colorado shot 40.5 percent from the field and 29 percent on threes.
There’s general agreement that Oregon needed a pretty spectacular showing in the Conference tournament to have any chance of sneaking into the NCAA tournament. A 1 - 1 finish is not going to get it done. The Ducks now await what is likely/hopefully an NIT invitation, which might provide another game at Matthew Knight Arena. In any case, ATQ will be along for the ride, wherever it may take this team.