Oregon prepares for a quick turnaround against USC and UCLA
Coming off a split against Utah (77-59 win) and Colorado (87-91 loss) on the road, the Oregon men’s basketball team (14-4, 3-2 Pac-12), which currently stands in a four-way tie for second in the conference, prepares for another difficult test against visiting No. 21 ranked USC (15-3, 4-1) and UCLA (11-7, 2-3) this weekend.
The Trojans, who have been the biggest surprise so far out of the Pac-12 – projected to finish 10th in the conference by the media before the season – is coming off of an 89-75 win over the Bruins.
“They’re a really confident bunch right now,” Dillon Brooks said. “They’re on top of the Pac-12 right now.”
“The way they’re playing right now, they’re pretty dangerous,” Tyler Dorsey added. “They have a lot of confidence coming in, so we got to be ready.”
The Bruins, despite having struggled as of late, are far from being a pushover. They possess wins upsets former No. 1 Kentucky (87-77) and No. 7 ranked Arizona (87-84) earlier this season.
“If we look down (on them), they can easily beat you,” Brooks said.
Both teams possess NBA ready prospects like Jordan McLaughlin (13.5 points, 5.1 assists), Bryce Alford (16.9 points, 5.2 assists) and Tony Parker (13.8 points, 10.1 rebounds).
To combat that, Oregon will be looking to ride Brooks’ recent hot streak. Just in the last two games, Brooks, who was exploiting opposing defenders with his improved mid-range jumper, is averaging 21 points and six rebounds on 66 percent shooting. A lot of his improvement can be reverted back to a successful offseason of cutting weight, eating better, and ultimately, gaining more endurance and confidence.
“I knew I always had it,” Brooks said. “I play a lot more minutes (now with the physical improvements). With hydration and new diet, it gives me more energy and more enthusiasm to play the game. It gives me more confidence, too.”
“He’s played well, he’s played hard,” Altman said. “He’s playing at a real high level right now.”
Facing USC this Thursday night and UCLA early Saturday afternoon, the biggest obstacle for Oregon will be having to manage such a quick turnaround against two quality opponents. Fortunately for the Ducks, they’ll at least be at home.
“You just kind of go with it,” Altman said referring to the unforgiving nature of scheduling. “Just got to play with what they schedule you. We’ve had two to three days in between most of our games to get into a routine and now we get the one day. I guess we should look at it as a positive that CBS wants us on Saturday, but it does make it a tough turnaround.”
After a dominating performance against the Utes, Altman was disappointed with how his team followed up against the Buffaloes. Both are notoriously difficult venues to play at, but there was no excuse for how Oregon faired on the boards and on the defensive end. The high scoring shootout was ultimately decided by some fortunate bounces in the Buffaloes’ favor late in the game, but Altman simply pointed to the 26 second chance points given up as the bottom line.
“Disappointed,” Altman said. “Didn’t guard and we didn’t rebound. A lot of that was Colorado. The rebounding was probably the biggest thing. That was a killer.”
Oregon has yet to give up a game at home this season. These next two opponents will be looking to give the Ducks a run for their money.
Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim
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