Oregon nation-leading home winning streak increased to 42 last week in match-ups with Utah and Colorado. With these victories, the Ducks clinched an undefeated season at Matthew Knight Arena for the second year in a row.
When looking at Oregon’s record compared to Utah’s and Colorado’s, one could easily assume that capping off the undefeated season would be difficult for the Ducks. This is even easier to assume when one realizes that just a few weeks before Utah took Oregon to the last minute, and Colorado beat Oregon by nine just two days later. The outcomes of last weeks games couldn’t have been more different than those from a few weeks before.
Oregon won both games by a combined 46 points, and shot over 50 percent in both games while holding each opponent to below 45 percent. While the game against the Utes was over fairly early, Colorado stuck around for most of the first half. The Buffaloes were going pretty much shot for shot with the Ducks, with the teams trading the lead four times in the first half. Colorado only trailed 35-32 with 3:51 remaining in the first half. It was beginning to look like this Colorado team was Oregon’s kryptonite, and we would be in for a fun second half.
Then Oregon turned on the jets.
The Ducks finished the first half on a 10-0 run and opened the second half with 19-2 run to increase the slim lead from about ten minutes of game-time earlier to 30. Oregon allowed more points in the final thirteen minutes of the game than it did in the first twenty-seven, but the team had loosened up on defense and the shots continued to fall so it did not matter. What looked to be a low-scoring, gritty game in the first half turned into Oregon’s second-highest scoring game of the season. While there was plenty to be happy about, Oregon still has some major concerns that need addressing.
Since starting conference play, Oregon has gone 9-0 at home with a total scoring differential of +181, while only going 4-2 on the road with a total scoring differential of +46. This team has still not been able to prove that it can be an elite team away from home, which obviously will be one of the biggest factors in deciding its postseason success.
The Ducks will finish out the regular season by playing three road games against teams they already beat handily. Two of the games are considered to be mostly in-the-bag for Oregon, but the first one against California will be a difficult one. The Golden Bears are expected to give it their all, as a loss here would almost surely eliminate them from contention for the NCAA tournament. Oregon will have to be careful not to falter at Cal if it still wants a chance at entering the Pac-12 tournament as the top seed.
If Oregon can win all three road games, it would hopefully give the team more confidence in its ability to play away from home, especially if it could have a dominating performance like some of those seen at Matthew Knight Arena all season long. Oregon will also be rooting for UCLA to win over Arizona this Saturday as well, as a Wildcats loss is necessary for the Ducks to win the regular season Pac-12 title.