Plagued by inconsistencies and injuries so far this season, the Oregon men’s basketball team Duck fans have wanted to see all year showed up in a blowout over Arizona in Eugene last weekend.
The question was, would those same Ducks show up against a far inferior Cal team, or would they lack the motivation given the opponent?
Fortunately, Oregon came out with the same mindset and dismantled Cal 87-58 in a game that went exactly the way it should have.
Five Ducks scored in double figures, and the defense that had worn down Arizona completely overwhelmed the Golden Bears. It was a welcome sight too, because with everyone finally healthy and having proven themselves capable the Saturday before, Oregon was flat out out of any more excuses.
The Ducks shot nearly 60% from the field and 84% on free-throws, much closer to what fans should expect from a team of their calibur. They still only managed 37% shooting from 3-point range, a stat that needs to improve, but the way the team is playing defense the last couple games, it has become a lot more workable.
Oregon held Cal to 40% shooting from the field and 25% shooting from deep while forcing nine turnovers. N’Faly Dante and Kel’el Ware continue to protect the rim well, and Oregon is cutting down drastically on second-chance points.
This on-court performance, and even more importantly, this new mentality, seems to be popping up at the right time, as Oregon now faces 12 more conference games of which they will likely need to win no less than 10 if they want to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive year, something that hasn’t happened to Altman and co. in over a decade.