SEATTLE — The Oregon men's basketball team demonstrated resilience in bouncing back from a disheartening loss and also enduring a frantic comeback bid Saturday afternoon, as the Ducks held off Washington, 72-64, to wrap up the regular season before a sold-out crowd of 9,912 in Alaska Airlines Arena.
The win put the Ducks (20-11, 10-8 Pac-12) in position to enter the Pac-12 Tournament as either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed, pending the result of Saturday's UCLA-USC game. They also regained some momentum following Thursday's loss at Washington State. "There's something about tough games we must like, because we don't win easy ones," UO sophomore Keith Smith said. "But we needed this one, and I'm glad we got it."
How It Happened: Coming off the loss at WSU, the Ducks turned things around from the get-go Saturday, making 8-of-10 attempts to open the game and building a 20-12 lead. Payton Pritchard beat the halftime buzzer with a three for a 44-29 lead, and the Ducks went up by as many as 16 at a couple points in the second half. "We needed a good start," UO coach Dana Altman said. "Our play the other night, we weren't focused or intense. But as disappointed as I was the other night, I was equally as proud tonight."
A three-pointer by Troy Brown Jr. made it 63-47 halfway through the second half, after which the Ducks went cold and the sold-out crowd came alive. Oregon went 5:59 without a field goal, and after Kenny Wooten ended that lull by scoring to make it 68-57, the Huskies used a 7-0 run to get within four with 3:12 left.
From there, the Ducks remained in a funk offensively — Wooten's field goal was their only one over the final 10:34 of the game. But UW's 7-0 run provided the final points of the game by the Huskies, as Oregon finished it out with six straight stops. Paul White forced a turnover to start the streak, and on the next possession Pritchard ranged deep into the post to strip a UW big man. "Those two possessions back to back were really important for us," Altman said.
Coming out of a timeout with 1:36 left, White missed a good look at a three-pointer from the corner. But Oregon's defense came through again, with Wooten altering one shot and blocking the next, and White and Elijah Brown making two free throws each in the final 30 seconds to clinch it.
Who Stood Out: Pritchard led the Ducks with 14 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting, and White added 13 points with five rebounds. Brown scored 12 points, dished out six assists and fought through six turnovers in a team-high 37 minutes. Wooten finished with four blocked shots and several others altered due to his presence, and MiKyle McIntosh had a team-high seven rebounds. That helped the Ducks to a 37-29 edge on the boards, which included 11 offensive rebounds that gave Oregon a 17-4 advantage in second-chance points.
What It Means: The Ducks clinched a 20-win season for the eighth year in a row, matching Arizona for the longest active streak in the Pac-12 Conference and joining an elite group of just 13 teams nationally. "I feel like this is a good way to go into the Pac-12 Tournament," Brown said. "Hopefully we can make a run."
Up Next: The Ducks now await the result of Saturday night's UCLA-USC game to learn their Pac-12 Tournament seeding. A USC win would make Oregon the No. 5 seed, facing 12th seed Cal on Wednesday (2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network). A UCLA win would make Oregon the No. 6 seed, facing 11th seed Washington State on Wednesday (8:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network).