Following their 82-63 loss to UCLA (26-8, 12-6) in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament, Joseph Young said: “We’re a good team and we’re going to make a run because it’s a game of runs.” Young wasn’t wrong. Despite the Bruins snapping Oregon’s (23-9, 10-8) eight game winning streak, the Ducks received a seventh seed in the West Region where they will meet 10th seed BYU in Milwaukee next Thursday. For the Ducks, this is a great opportunity to salvage the rest of their season considering they beat the Cougars 100-96 in OT earlier this season.
Momentum may have been lost but like Young said it can as easily be regained.
Typically in a blowout loss, there aren’t many positives to take away. In Thursday’s game this rang true. Dismal shooting (43.6 percent) and a soft defense (82 points) defined the Ducks in their Pac-12 tournament exiting loss and it’s not something that will rest easy in their stomachs during the week leading up to selection Sunday. The Bruins simply outplayed the Ducks in all facets of the game — especially in the second half — and it makes you wonder where they will stand mentally in their next game.
Amid their loss, the Ducks’ biggest deficiencies were exposed. Poor defense and a rough shooting night halted any chance of the Ducks competing with the No. 2 seed Bruins and it is a cause for concern as they head into the tournament. Oregon’s postseason success or failures will be entirely dependent on which of their many teams show up and at the moment, that’s completely up in the air.
The biggest worry for the Ducks following this loss is their confidence heading into the NCAA tournament. For a team that has experienced dramatic momentum swings throughout the year, it has been nearly impossible to predict their outcome on a weekly basis. This Oregon team may be stacked from a talent standpoint, but its consistency hasn’t been present nearly often enough to reflect it.
The problem with this loss isn’t necessarily the fact they lost, it was the manner in which the Pac-12 season ended. Any other outcome, whether it be a close game or an advancement to the next round, would have allowed the Ducks to carry over momentum from their strong finish but now that door has been closed.
After experiencing a tough season-ending loss to UCLA, the Ducks mental state of mind will be in question. Momentum has been the story for this Oregon team and it’s going to be a mere matter of which way it swings in their next game. But if the Ducks can manage to get past the Cougars, there is no reason why they can’t string together one last run; even against second seed Wisconsin.
The odds may be against the Ducks, but that didn’t stand in their way during their marquee wins. Oregon has proven they can compete with the best in the country and it may just hold true for one last stretch.
Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim