Rushed Reactions: Oregon 73, California 65Posted by RJ Abeytia on March 11th, 2017
Oregon and Cal came into the game as the two best defensive teams in the league, and after a fast start for the offenses, the defenses rose up and put a stranglehold on the game. In the end, Cal’s early loss of Jabari Bird proved to be a bridge too far as the NCAA Tournament-galvanizing win the Bears were looking for eluded them and the Ducks moved onto their fourth Pac-12 title game in five seasons.
- Oregon’s versatility is a big, big deal. The Ducks overcame a subpar (3-of-12 FG) and foul-plagued (he picked up his fourth foul with 18:02 left in the second half) game from Dillon Brooks. Tyler Dorsey picked up his slack with a 23-point performance, but Oregon was not dependent on Brooks to put on his cape at the end. Dylan Ennis posted the key bucket in the final few minutes, curling off a weave handoff and getting to the bucket for the game-sealing three-point play.
- One of the biggest factors was Oregon’s ability to overcome a poor effort from its freshman point guard and Cal’s inability to do the same. Payton Pritchard was a virtual non-entity on offense (three points) and earned the ire of Dana Altman defensively as well. Cal’s Charlie Moore had a decent overall line with 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting but he also committed seven turnovers and could not get the Bears a good shot when they desperately needed one. With 2:10 to go and the Bears down three, he turned it over with a bad double-dribble possession. Moments later, Ennis hit the and-one that sealed the game for the Ducks. With Dorsey, Brooks and Ennis, Oregon didn’t need Pritchard to organize them and it made the difference.
- Jordan Bell passes the eye test. Bell had a monster block on a Stephen Domingo drive late where he came from seemingly nowhere (the deep right wing, but you get the idea) to erase what appeared to be an easy layup. He has an endless motor, plays very physically, yet only had two fouls in a game that featured 41 violations. He also contributed 15 rebounds, five blocks and a steal. Oregon is the best defensive team in the conference and Bell is one of the best defenders in college basketball. People want to think Go-Go offense when they think Oregon, but the deeper they go into this season the clearer it is that it’s defense that forms the foundation of this team.
Star of the Game. Tyler Dorsey, Oregon. Bell was a close second, but Dorsey put up 23 points in 32 turnover-free minutes in a game that was effectively played without Dillon Brooks. Cal had nobody who could step up and replace Jabari Bird’s production in the same way that Dorsey did for the Ducks.
- “I didn’t come into the game thinking we had to win to get into the Tournament. To me we’re a Tournament team.” – California head coach Cuonzo Martin
- “Well, offensively the whole team was out of rhythm. Dillon [Brooks] had a lot to do with that early. He took some really quick shots, bad shots, and kind of got us out of sync.” – Oregon head coach Dana Altman
- “I mean, we had a seven-point lead there and we had two or three really bad possessions. I mean, we were stuck in the mud. We came out of timeout wanting to run a set play, and guys lined up in the wrong spots. That’s my fault. But we really were stagnant there.” – Altman
Sights and Sounds. Dr. J. and Gary Payton were in the house, as was Pac-12 Advocate and Potential Extraterrestrial Bill Walton. T-Mobile Arena is a massive upgrade over MGM Grand Garden Arena, providing for an excellent environment.
What’s Next. Oregon looks to win its second consecutive Pac-12 Tournament title against Arizona on Saturday night. Big picture, Oregon has probably locked up #2 seed in the West Region, but a win over the Wildcats would make a compelling argument for a #1 seed, especially with presumptive top seeds North Carolina and Kansas failing to make their conference tournament finals.