Bubble Watch: Oregon Basketball Is On Fire
After having a horrible, 3-8 start to the Pac-12 season, the Oregon Ducks have now won four-straight games in conference play, improving their tournament chances. At 7-8, the Ducks have a relatively easy stretch until they play the Arizona Wildcats on the road on March 8.
The UCLA Bruins were next up on the chopping block for the Ducks; it did not end well for the Bruins. Without its two stars, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, the Bruins could not score on the Ducks’ porous defense. The Ducks took advantage of a team that did not have its best lineup and improved its bubble’s strength.
The Ducks had to rely on two bench players for offense: forward Richard Amardi and guard Jason Calliste. The duo combined for 30 points, the Bruins had no answer for them on defense. Amardi struggled with fouls, getting his fourth with eight minutes left to go in the game; he fouled out in the second overtime period when the Ducks needed a post presence. Joseph Young also added 26 points, leading all Ducks’ starters. You have to mention Mike Moser‘s performance as well, grabbing a career-high 20 rebounds and scoring 12 points.
Certainly this win should be put under a microscope because of the players that UCLA had at its disposal; but anything helps for the Pac-12’s top middle-tier team. The Ducks have a nice schedule heading forward, with two-of-its-last-three games at home against the Wildcats and the Arizona State Sun Devils. Its lone road game, against the USC Trojans, should be no contest for the Ducks; but it is a Pac-12 road game, anything can happen.
If the Ducks can win out, they are heading to the big dance, but if they have a slip against a team not named the Arizona Wildcats, they are going to be watching the NCAA tournament or playing in the NIT—certainly if they win the Pac-12 tournament, they get an automatic bid, but that title is most likely going to the Wildcats.
It was not pretty, in fact, it went into double-overtime, but it was a victory nevertheless for the Ducks. A victory had to be had against the Bruins; and a victory they got, 87-83. Down the stretch, it felt like the Ducks were lost on offense, scoring just two points in the first overtime period jacking up terrible jumpers and turning the ball over on every possession. However, they got a breakaway lay-in to tie it up and send it into the second overtime period where they dominated the Bruins.
The Ducks have caught fire of late; can they keep their ignitions burning and win out? All I can say is: they picked the right time to start winning.
John Lloyd is a Pac-12 Basketball Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JohnHlloydIII