Ducks eager for second shot at OSU
During the past four seasons, only Arizona has swept Oregon in the regular season.
Ten other teams during that time beat the Ducks in the first meeting, but Oregon won each of those rematches. Overall, the Ducks are 23-5 the second time they face a team in Pac-12 play since 2013-14.
“The second time around, you hope guys understand what they didn’t do the first time and have a little better idea what it takes,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Our last few teams, the second time around they really locked in to what they needed to do and really tried to execute. This is a new team, so we’ll see how they handle it.”
Three years ago, Arizona blew out the Ducks in both regular-season matchups, marking the last time a team won at home and away against Oregon. Oregon State (11-9, 3-4) will look for its first sweep of the Ducks (13-7, 3-4) since 2009-10 at Matthew Knight Arena on Saturday night, 22 days after the Beavers beat the Ducks 76-64 in Corvallis.
“That was just a bad game in general,” UO point guard Payton Pritchard recalled. “We can fix a lot of things. We will be way more prepared for this game.”
Oregon’s recent success facing an opponent for the second time helped it reach the NCAA Tournament in five consecutive seasons, a streak that is in jeopardy with the Ducks at No. 90 in the RPI as they prepare to close out January. With six newcomers among the seven Ducks who get the most playing time, Oregon sits in a tie for seventh place after winning back-to-back conference titles.
“We have been real fortunate to have guys that want to have a good team and these guys want to have a good team,” Altman said. “The guys in the past decided ‘We’ve got to make this push’, it is not like we have some magic formula. We have been fortunate all seven years to have teams that keep fighting and want to get better.”
Oregon likely needs seven or eight wins in the final 11 conference games to get in contention for an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s now or never. We’ve got to get on a run and take care of Oregon State now,” Pritchard said.
OSU outrebounded Oregon 43-36 in Corvallis, including 11 offensive rebounds that led to 14 points. That continued a trend for the Ducks, who are 1-5 when losing the battle on the boards.
“We didn’t play real hard that first game,” UO senior forward MiKyle McIntosh said. “We got outrebounded and outhustled and didn’t play together as a team. We did a terrible job rebounding, that is one thing we need to improve on. Since it was just a couple weeks ago, we already know what we need to get done.”
Oregon’s 36.2 field-goal percentage against the Beavers was its lowest in conference play. No Duck who took more than one shot at OSU was above 50 percent from the field.
“The last time we played them, we were real stagnant,” Pritchard said. “We looked terrible. Now our assists are up and we are moving the ball better and hitting shots too. We are getting in a flow and we have to continue that on Saturday.”
Oregon State is allowing 68.7 points per game, the fewest in the Pac-12, and ranks behind only Oregon by allowing opponents to shoot 41.8 percent from the field.
“They pack that zone in and really collapse on your drivers,” Altman said. “They make you make an extra pass and if you are not ready to do that, our offense could be stagnant.”
Since their first meeting, Oregon and Oregon State have each beaten UCLA and lost to USC and Arizona. The Ducks won at Arizona State while the Beavers lost to the Sun Devils.
Oregon had a lead in the final four minutes of each of its last four games, but won two and lost two.
“We have picked it up the last four games and been more competitive,” Altman said. “We’ve been a better team, but now it is just a matter of how we finish.”
Follow Steve Mims on Twitter @SteveMims_RG .