Saturday was the first time all season that Oregon dominated in the way a true national title contender should. Sure, the Ducks blown out their fair share of bad to pretty good squads and have also proven the ability to beat other contenders, but this was the first time that Oregon faced another national title contender and blew the opponent out of the water. Arizona went to Eugene with the intent of grinding out a win in an arena that hadn’t seen an opponent’s victory in 39 consecutive games. Instead, Oregon ended this one in the first half, outscoring the Wildcats 38-18 en route to a dominant 85-58 win to push the streak to 40 (the longest active home winning streak in the nation).
The biggest factor that contributed to Oregon rolling over Arizona was Oregon’s efficiency from the three-point line. The Ducks hit 16 threes on 25 attempts, the most makes since the team hit a school record 18 threes back in 2008. Four players hit multiple threes, including 4-7 from Dillon Brooks and a perfect 6-6 from Tyler Dorsey. The Ducks were so hot on offense that there were only two players who shot below 50 percent from the field, and both players had three or fewer attempts. Obviously the level of offense that Oregon played with is not sustainable, but a game such as this one has the potential to give the Ducks the confidence and swagger they need to keep playing at a high level.
One aspect that could’ve been lost in the Ducks’ dominating offensive performance was their defense. Oregon has had one of the top defenses in the nation all season, but Saturday was the team’s finest performance yet. Arizona was held 17 points below its season scoring average, and were also held to 7-27 shooting in the first half. The Wildcats managed to score much easier in the second half, but that was after Oregon had taken its foot off the gas when it was clear early in the half that the game was over. The Ducks have proven time and time again this season that their defense is nothing to mess with, and it would be hard to see any team beating them if their defense plays the way it did on Saturday.
Beating Arizona was a huge victory for Oregon, but staying at the top of the Pac-12 could prove difficult, especially in the next couple games. On Thursday, No. 5 Oregon has its anticipated rematch with No. 10 UCLA. If the game is even remotely like the first one, we should be in for a fun game.
Oregon will also have its rematch against USC on Saturday, and the first game between these two was hardly a nail-biter with Oregon blowing out the Trojans 84-61. However, USC is a good home team, and Oregon hasn’t quite shown the ability to dominate a talented team on the road yet. USC also had sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright return last week, and he put together two solid performances. Oregon will have to watch its back this week with two talented teams looking for revenge.
The Ducks have played some good games this season, but Saturday’s rout of Arizona was the first time since preseason that they’re being regarded as true title contenders. Oregon crumpled under the pressure of the preseason hype — losing two of the first four games — but managed to climb their way back up to the top five. This feels like a much different team than the one that started the year. This team looks confident on both ends of the court and seems ready to show the nation what they’re made of. If the Ducks can take care of UCLA and USC again this week, don’t be surprise if they’re as high as the top three in the next AP Poll.