Oregon men’s basketball’s win over Stanford wasn’t one for lovers of offense as Oregon’s stout defense led the Ducks to a 69-46 victory over the Cardinal.
Oregon (15-9, 6-5) held Stanford (12-11, 5-6) to an abysmal 27.3 percent shooting on the night and tied the fewest points the Cardinal have scored this season.
Both teams started flat, with the score at 13-2 through the first 11 minutes; Both teams barely recovered, and Oregon held a halftime lead of 30-20.
In the second half, Oregon pulled away down the stretch to a 20 point lead, making it a comfortable win for the Ducks.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Wooten leads the way
Whatever the price of attendance was, it wasn’t worth the quality of the first half. Stanford opened the game 1-for-21 and scored two points in the first 13 minutes. Oregon wasn’t much better, scoring 16.
But, Kenny Wooten did put on a show, giving those watching some entertainment. His four blocks in the first ten minutes kept Stanford in its scoring drought. Wooten flew from the weak side multiple times to swat shots at the rim.
His five blocks in the first half were already the most by a Duck in a game this season. Wooten ended with seven blocks on the night, tied for fifth most in a single game in program history.
He had more blocks than Stanford had points through the first 14 minutes.
“At some point I’m just trying to hunt down shots at all times,” Wooten said. “I’m just trying to find as many opportunities as I can, and today it was working. I got those first three early and after that I just kept hunting.”
His defense was the biggest reason why Stanford shot 27.3 percent on the night. Entering the game, Oregon knew Stanford was a long, athletic team with a desire to drive to the hoop. Stanford was shooting 54.6 percent on 2-point shots, four percent above the D-I average, according to KenPom.com, and getting 52 percent of its points on 2-point shots, also above the national average.
“[Wooten] just puts a thought in defenders’ minds to [not] even go down there, especially when you got guys that are just drivers and not really shooters and getting to the bucket is what they do,” guard Victor Bailey Jr. said. “He really helps our defense out tremendously.”
Pritchard getting hot
Wooten stole the show in the first half, but it was Payton Pritchard’s show in the second. The junior point guard allowed Oregon to slowly extend its lead to around 20 in the second half, and Oregon held steady from there.
Pritchard was aggressive. He drove to the basket early in the second half, getting four layups in the first five minutes. He scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half, and it was his second consecutive game scoring over 20 points.
“Right now he’s just in a zone,” Wooten said. “He puts in the same consistent work, and it’s just starting to drop for him right now.”
His shooting drought has been well documented this season. He’s shooting a career-low 33 percent from beyond the arc, so his desire to get baskets elsewhere was promising for Oregon. Even with that said, he’s been hot recently. He is 9-for-19 from 3 over the last three games.
And the Ducks need him to be a more consistent scorer. Paul White and Louis King were Oregon’s top two scorers — not counting Bol Bol — but Pritchard passed White. Oregon has its scoring droughts, so if Pritchard can find his way to the rim against a long, athletic Stanford team, that’s a good sign for Oregon’s Pac-12 chances.
Ducks back in Pac-12 contention (for 2nd)
Oregon’s win over Stanford and sweep of the Bay Area moves them into fifth place. Arizona State, Oregon State and Utah are tied for second but only with one more win.
“This was big, especially for spots in the Pac-12,” Bailey said. “We really needed this win to try and get on the top level of the guys in the Pac right now.”
Washington is 10-1 and, barring a collapse, will win the regular season title. But Oregon should shoot for a top-4 spot for a first-round Pac-12 Tournament bye. Behind Washington — and Washington State and Cal at the bottom — the Pac-12 is as open as ever.
The Ducks’ schedule goes as follows: at. Oregon State, at. USC, at. UCLA, vs. ASU, vs. Arizona, at. Washington State, at. Washington.
That’s two of the three teams one spot ahead of them, so it’s an opportunity to get into the top-4. KenPom.com gives Oregon a 49, 51 and 49 percent chance of winning the next three games, respectively. Anyone who has watched the Pac-12 this season knows almost every game seems 50-50. Oregon could make its life easier in the Pac-12 Tournament by hitting the right gear now.
“We’re going to find out how together of a team we have,” head coach Dana Altman said.