Win or Out
Oregon and Washington, two of the more bitter rivals in all of collegiate athletics, will have one more chance to go against one another this season on Thursday night, when they send their men’s basketball teams to square off in the 2013 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The game, which will be held in Las Vegas, will see the two teams squaring off against one another for the third time this year.
Oregon has won the two previous contests, the first time they have accomplished the feat since 1995.
And while the Ducks did have a close contest at home against Washington, they took care of business in their final meeting, beating the Huskies by a score of 65-52 in Seattle.
That being said, the two teams are heading into the game on completely different streaks.
The Ducks, who had a chance to take home at least a share of their first Pac-12 regular season title since 2002, lost both of their contests last week against Colorado and Utah en route to one of the more disappointing finishes for the program in recent years. Though they come in as the third seed in the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament, they are virtually carrying no momentum.
Washington, on the other hand, is coming with all the momentum in the conference.
Winners of five of their last seven, the Huskies have started to hit a decent stride that has seen improved play from all of their players.
With a chance to advance into the semifinals in the conference tournament at stake, this could be one of the bigger games between the two rivals in quite some time. Knowing such, let’s take the time to break this game down.
Washington’s Previous Game
The Huskies are coming off a drubbing of the Washington State Cougars in the first round of the conference tournament and could not have played better against their in-state rivals.
Washington dominated their contest until there were five minutes left in the second half. Hitting just about every shot throughout the first 25 minutes of the game, the Huskies were once again flat-footed against the Cougars in the closing minutes.
And though Washington State would do everything they could to pull off the big comeback–largely because of the efforts of Brock Motum–Washington was able to make a run of their own and finish off the sweep of the Cougars.
Oregon’s Previous Game
The Ducks’ last game was arguably their worst of the year.
With a share of the Pac-12 regular season title on the line, the Ducks couldn’t seem to get up for the 11:30 am start in Salt Lake City en route to an embarrassing 72-62 loss to a Utah team that had won just four Pac-12 games all year.
Struggling to put together any kind of streak in the game, the Ducks were unable to establish a lead throughout the contest. In fact, besides a point at which the Ducks saw themselves within six of the Utes, the closest the game would get was after the initial basket by Jason Washburn that gave Utah a 2-0 lead.
The only bright spot for Oregon was E.J. Singler, who rattled off 21 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and one steal after being relatively absent the past few games (in terms of on-court production).
What Washington Needs to Do
To beat the Ducks, the Huskies have to force Oregon to shoot from the perimeter and not allow them to drive the lane. Oregon gets in a groove when they are allowed to use Arsalan Kazemi and Tony Woods to open shots for the rest of their shooters.
If those two players are not allowed to drive and give players such as Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson open looks, however, the Ducks can be severely limited.
In order to win the game the Huskies have to put the game in the hands of Oregon’s perimeter shooters while relying on their talent from three as well.
What Oregon Needs to Do
The Ducks must establish the post and get Kazemi and Woods to be productive on the inside if they are to have any shot of advancing in the Pac-12 tournament.
They need to get their bigs producing at a level they haven’t in recent memory, thus allowing Artis, Dotson, and Singler to drive and open up spacing for other players to take smarter and better shots.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Ducks have to eliminate the threat of Washington hitting the three throughout the entire contest. They must put pressure on the outside and make the Huskies play an inside game that will put the advantage in the hands of Oregon.
If they make these simple adjustments before game time tomorrow, the Ducks could very well advance.
While the Huskies do have the momentum of coming off a win against Washington State in the first round of the tournament, the Ducks will come out hot and looking for revenge, leading to a close win for the No. 3 seed.
Oregon 71 Washington 63