The Oregon Ducks men’s basketball team performed as expected on Thursday night. It was not a surprise - James Crepea of The Oregonian has been singling out California as of late, and this game in Eugene was no different:
In Eugene, the Oregon men have begun playing the worst Power conference team in basketball.— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) March 3, 2023
As much as I love it when the Ducks win - and this game was no exception - I wonder what in the world happened to California. (No, not the state - STOP IT!) In the Montgomery years, Cal was always an asterisk on the schedule. No matter how good the Ducks were, those Montgomery teams would always seem to trip them up. No longer.
Oregon came out a bit sluggish to start the game. Halfway into the first half, there was still only a two-point difference in the score. We did see flashes of what we would see later in the game, especially by N’Faly Dante early on:
Oregon began to pull away later in the half, lead by four Jermaine Cousinard shots from downtown.
Oregon built a comfortable lead at the half, up 16, 42-26.
The second half was all Oregon. The Golden Bears completely crumbled and made the Ducks look like an NBA team was playing them.
Now, we all know that’s hardly the truth. It’s a sad fact that this season’s Cal Bears team is just that bad. There is nothing to be gleaned from defeating the weak. There is nothing to be gained from being the 200 lb. boxing opponent competing against the 96 lb. weakling; yet here is where we were. The Ducks poured on the fire the entire second half and looked good in the process.
Is Oregon that good? Well, no, with a disqualifier: they have the potential to be this good, but they haven’t consistently proved it. For fans, this has been a frustrating season, because we see the flashes of brilliance, but where is the consistency? When is this great (on paper) team going to blow the roof off?
The Ducks did all that and more against Cal, but one game does not denote a pattern. Heck, win against Stanford on Saturday and it still doesn’t mean much. Sure, Oregon needs the win, but if they want to be in the NCAA mix then they’ll need to translate wins into a Pac-12 tournament run.
But I digress. First things first, and the first thing is that these Oregon Ducks performed as expected against the California Golden Bears. Oregon shot 54.8% on the game to 35.2% for Cal. The Ducks easily won on the boards, 45-21. Oregon had 13 assists vs. seven turnovers, so overall one can’t disparage their performance. The Ducks owned points in the paint, 46-26.
California’s Sam Alajiki was the Bears’ scoring leader with 11 points. Unfortunately for them, he really got no help at all.
Oregon had five players that scored in double digits, lead by Jermaine Cousinard with 17 points. N’Faly Dante, Rivaldo Soares, Nate Bittle, and Kel’el Ware were all in double digits with 10 points. Tyrone Williams may have only scored nine points, but was a bundle of furious energy, going 4-5 on the field, including 1-1 from downtown.
Saturday against Stanford should be a win. Still, there is great unease as to the identity and capability of this team going into the Pac-12 tournament. This weekend’s games will not answer any questions, so we will have to see what happens.
The game against Cal was not all positive - there are dark clouds on the horizon:
Dana Altman’s perspective after the game: