By Morris Phillips
Well, the Oregon Ducks and Cal Bears aren’t on the same trajectory.
While the Bears exercised their ability to stay connected to a superior opponent (without success), the Ducks’ dress rehearsal for a lengthy NCAA Tournament run looked like the real thing in Oregon’s 90-56 thrashing of Cal.
The Ducks opened with five, consecutive made shots, then went on a 21-0 run to put the game out of reach before halftime. Payton Pritchard, UO’s leader and long distance marksman led the effort with 20 points, nine assists. The Ducks regained a share of first place in the Pac-12 with the win, and they clinch a least a tie for the title in the regular season finale against Stanford on Saturday.
“The first half I really thought we really flew around and made a lot of defensive plays. And our ball movement was good and we obviously shot well at three, which gives you a big boost offensively,” coach Dana Altman said of his Ducks.
Only one word could describe Oregon’s offensive output: torrid. The Ducks shot 60 percent from the field, 70 percent from three (12 of 17), and converted 80 percent of their free throws. The Ducks shared the ball with five players in double figures, and 18 assists on 31 made baskets.
Coach Mark Fox had hopes his team could summon its best effort after consecutive home wins, but the Bears didn’t come close.
“I was disappointed in our approach to the game, but I want to give Oregon credit. They played very well,” Fox said. “The only thing I was surprised by was our very poor start to the game.”
The 34-point margin of victory was the largest ever for Oregon in a victory over Cal. The Bears hadn’t given up at least 90 points in over a year dating back to a lopsided loss to UCLA. The Bears shot a chilly 36 percent from the floor for the game, and 33 percent in the first half, after which they trailed 46-20.
Matt Bradley led the Bears (13-17, 7-10) with 15 points, Grant Anticevich added 10.
The Bears conclude the regular season on Saturday in Corvallis against Oregon State.