In a back-and forth, up-and-down season, Oregon basketball has shown at times that they have a fire in them.
It sometimes is barely more than a flicker. Other times it’s enough to produce some flames. And a few times this season, it has turned into a full on blaze, with its flames fanning all around.
Thursday evening was one of those times.
The Ducks were in complete control in a 78-60 win over USC, a team that as of now is projected to make an NCAA Tournament appearance. The Ducks shot 54% from the field, 33% from 3-point range, and 89% from the foul line while holding the Trojans to 41% shooting overall.
Oregon outrebounded USC while also winning the turnover battle. It was the second time in a month that the Ducks have dismantled a top-tier conference opponent at home, and was a great follow-up performance to a gutty win in Tempe over Arizona State.
With the score tied 6-6 early on, the Ducks went on a 13-0 run to seize a double-digit lead they would never relinquish. Four Ducks scored in double figures, led by N’Faly Dante’s 17 and Will Richardson’s 16. Jermaine Cousnard and Nate Bittle added 13 and 11 respectively.
It was a stark contrast to last year’s matchup with the Trojans, in which Oregon suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the final seconds that pretty much scratched their NCAA Tournament hopes.
This time around, there was no need for such drama, and the Ducks are currently very much on the tournament bubble. With #7 UCLA coming to Eugene on Saturday, Oregon seems to have turned up the furnace at just the right time.
Question is, will it be hot enough to burn the Bruins?