If there’s one thing to be learned through the first two weeks of the Pacific-12 Conference men’s basketball season, it’s that there’s no sure thing.
Stanford is the lone unbeaten team, and every school has at least one conference victory.
That means No. 8 Oregon (14-3, 3-1 Pac-12) can’t rest easy when it travels to Pullman, Wash., on Thursday to face injury-riddled Washington State (10-7, 1-3).
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Ducks coach Dana Altman said after a 78-69 victory against visiting Arizona State on Saturday. “It’s a work in progress, it’s going to be for a long time.”
Payton Pritchard matched his career-high 29 points and had six assists for Oregon, and Chris Duarte added 20 points. The two guards combined to shoot 10-for-17 on 3-point attempts.
Pritchard moved up to 10th on Oregon’s career scoring list with 1,630 points.
“Payton is a great player, and I’m still learning how to play with him,” Duarte told the Register-Guard. “Payton is always going to have two defenders on him, so that gives me a lot of space.”
The Ducks have won three in a row following a 74-65 loss at Colorado in their Pac-12 opener. The recent run includes a 74-73 overtime victory against then-No. 24 Arizona last Thursday.
“This keeps our confidence going,” Oregon forward Francis Okoro, who fouled out in 11 scoreless minutes against the Sun Devils, told the Register-Guard. “We go to Washington next week, and we are trying to understand how to go out there and get a win. We really needed this one, two big wins. …
“Right now, we are winning, so I am not worried about me. I think it will come, I need to be patient. I think I need to be more aggressive, try to post up more, move and set screens.”
Washington State, which topped UCLA in overtime in its last home game on Jan. 4, took a pair of losses in the Bay Area last weekend. That included an 88-62 defeat at Stanford on Saturday when forward CJ Elleby, who entered as the Pac-12’s third-leading scorer with 19.3 points per game, scored just six on 2-for-9 shooting.
The Cougars have been hit with several injuries, with first-year coach Kyle Smith saying earlier this week that starting point guard Jaylen Shead, a transfer from Texas State, is likely done for the season with a hip injury.
“We kind of have to reassess who we are,” Smith told the Spokesman-Review. “We definitely, we’re a slower team, to be honest. We were quick and really able to extend defensively, pressure-wise. You could play a lot harder.”
Forward Deion James, a graduate transfer from Colorado State, was diagnosed with a rare heart infection and was ruled out for the season. Guard Marvin Cannon is out with an ankle injury that, Smith said, will likely cause him to miss another three or four weeks, and forward Tony Miller missed the Stanford game with an injury.
“We had a good, solid nine guys, and the personality of that team … we were just quick, and we were generating offense off our defense. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t affect us,” Smith said. “it’s challenging with all the injuries.”
–Field Level Media