Photo by Allan Johnstone
Oregon Basketball

The Next Step

February 12, 2018
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Sunday night the Ducks finished the weekend with an 84-57 win over Washington State. The Ducks are on a roll after their loss to Stanford, beating both Washington schools. However the most crucial games are still to come when they play both LA schools and Arizona schools.

With that in mind here are a few areas the Ducks will need to excel in if they want to beat USC on Thursday.

After their first game against the Trojans, which they lost, I talked about how the Ducks struggled with fouls, seemed to not be buying into Altman’s program and not being able to close out a game.  So, have the Ducks improved enough in their last six games to beat USC?

I think so.

1.       Foul Trouble

Last time the Ducks committed 24 team fouls which led to 16 points at the line for the Trojans. The final score was 75-70 Trojans, in such a close game you can’t give so many opportunities for easy points. Here are the free throw stats from the last Oregon Duck games: UCLA 26/32, OSU 12/16, Cal 9/20, Stan 14/17, Wash 7/11 and Wash St. 7/12. The trend is going down but USC is a better and smarter team then the Washington schools and I am not confident that the Ducks will be able to stay out of foul trouble.

2.       Buying into Altman

In the last meeting the Ducks were playing like they didn’t believe what Altman was telling them and it was showing in their individual and team performances. But recently, especially after Stanford, the Ducks seem to be buying into what Altman is telling them. They are passing the ball better and taking smarter shots as well as playing solid full court defense and forcing the tough shot.

Of the three points this is, in my opinion, the most important because Altman has proven time and time again that he knows what he is doing so if this young team is buying in to Altman then I believe that the Ducks can make a late season run for March Madness.

3.       Streakiness in a game

The ability to finish a game with intensity is obviously an important component of winning this rematch against USC. This year Oregon has been playing down to the competition and losing games that they shouldn’t have be. The sample size is small and the teams aren’t as good as the schools in LA or Arizona but in the last two games the Ducks have been able to apply pressure for the entire game and pull away in the second half.

Seeing that in those two games is positive because the Ducks have been struggling with that for the whole season. Hopefully the Ducks will take that killer mentality into the last couple games of the regular season.

4.       Troy Brown Jr. and Kenny Wooten

In the first game vs. USC, Troy Brown Jr. and Kenny Wooten combined for a total of 16 points. Since that meeting Brown and Wooten have taken huge steps forward in both their individual games and combined games.

ESPN gives USC a 79.4% of winning this game but Brown and Wooten have been playing extremely well leading up to this game and they are the X factors for whether or not the Ducks will be able to pull of this upset.

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