EUGENE, Ore. — Wrapping up a dominant weekend of conference play, the Oregon men's basketball team beat Washington State on Sunday evening, 84-57, to complete a weekend sweep of the Washington schools by a combined 52 points and lift the Ducks into a fourth-place tie in the Pac-12 standings.
Eight days after a disheartening loss to Stanford, Oregon (17-8) improved to 7-5 in conference play, a half-game behind the two teams tied for second, UCLA and USC — the Ducks' opponents on their upcoming road trip this week. "I'd say we're definitely jelling more," said sophomore point guard Payton Pritchard, who had his first career double-double Sunday. "We kinda moved past the bad loss to Stanford. We're making strides, and going into L.A. we're really going to have to be together. We need both."
How It Happened: Playing against a WSU team that has just one conference win — and was without its leading scorer — the Ducks took care of business three days after dominating Washington, 65-40. Troy Brown Jr. followed his 21-point night against UW with 16 points and 10 rebounds Sunday, and Pritchard had 19 points and 10 assists to give him 18 assists for the weekend.
As Brown did to provide separation early in Thursday's win over UW, Pritchard provided a similar spark Sunday. The Cougars used four three-pointers to stay within 21-20 midway through the first half. Pritchard hit a midrange jumper on Oregon's next possession, followed with a steal and his first collegiate dunk, assisted on a Keith Smith dunk off another WSU turnover and finished off the 8-0 run by pulling up for another jumper.
That gave the Ducks a nine-point lead, 29-20. Defense helped Oregon maintain a healthy cushion entering halftime, with Brown flushing home a dunk off a Kenny Wooten blocked shot, and Abu Kigab forcing a turnover in the backcourt before feeding Pritchard for a layin and a 38-28 halftime lead.
In the second half, Oregon maintained that margin for the first few minutes. It was 55-44 when head coach Dana Altman decided to get some run for a lineup featuring Pritchard and four freshmen — Brown, Wooten, Kigab and Victor Bailey Jr. What followed was a decisive stretch for the Ducks, putting the game away.
With that group on the floor, the Ducks stretched the lead from 11 to 19, putting together a 10-0 run to go up 67-48. "I thought their energy was really good," Altman said. "They were finishing plays, made play for each other. I really thought that was a good stretch for us. The press really helped them get going, and if it hadn't been for a couple turnover, we really would have had a good stretch."
Who Stood Out: Pritchard scored his game-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, and topped his previous season-high of eight assists. Brown had three assists and five steals to go along with his fourth double-double, and Wooten had 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shoots — two within his first 41 seconds of entering the game.
What It Means: WSU's last points came at the 3:18 mark. From there, Oregon finished the game with 14 straight, turning it into the Ducks' second blowout victory of the weekend. "We feel like we did what we were supposed to do," senior MiKyle McIntosh said. "We came in here to get wins at home, protect our home, and they were two wins we needed. It was pretty important."
Up Next: The Ducks play at Southern California on Thursday (6 p.m., ESPN2).
Courtesy: UO Athletics (goducks.com)