Oregon aims for school-record-tying 15th win in row
EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon’s streak of 14 consecutive wins include five in a row to open the Pac-12 Conference schedule.
Yet after a buzzer-beater to defeat No. 3 UCLA, the Ducks have won four straight, by an average margin of 26.5 points, over team currently out of the Top 25. All four of those opponents are sixth or worse in the Pac-12.
The schedule is about to get tougher for Oregon.
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The 13th-ranked Ducks (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12) are home against fourth-place California (13-5, 4-2) on Thursday before hosting Stanford on Saturday. Oregon goes back on the road Jan. 26 to play at fifth-place Utah (12-5, 3-2).
“We are at home for three straight games and then the schedule after next week really flips on us,” said Oregon coach Dana Altman, whose team drilled visiting Oregon State 85-43 on Saturday. “We have to get ready for California on Thursday.”
Oregon is tied for first in the Pac-12 with Arizona, while UCLA is one-half game back at 5-1.
“We know we have to get better because everyone else is,” Oregon guard Casey Benson said “Arizona, UCLA, everyone is getting better. It is exciting to know we have room to grow and get better. We have to maintain our focus and keep each other accountable.”
Oregon would match the school record with a 15th straight win if they can beat the Bears. The Ducks have the second-longest active home winning streak in the NCAA at 36 straight.
With all those accomplishments, Oregon also is maintaining a selfless attitude.
Benson started all 38 games during Oregon’s run to the Elite Eight last season before coming off the bench for the past 14 games. Senior center Chris Boucher is averaging 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, but he has adapted to a role off the bench in the past five games.
“Chris came up to me before the game and said, ‘Coach, I don’t know what you want to do with the starting lineup, but if you want to bring me off the bench and start the guys you have been starting, that’s great,'” Altman said after the Saturday game. “That shows you how unselfish he is.”
The 6-foot-10 Boucher moved to the bench to make way in the starting unit for preseason All-America forward Dillon Brooks, who missed the first three games of the season following offseason foot surgery and played in a reserve role during his first five games of his return.
Brooks is averaging 13.6 points per game as Oregon has five players scoring in double digits. Guard Tyler Dorsey averages 12.7 points, and guard Dylan Ennis is at 11.8. Forward Jordan Bell leads the team with 8.0 rebounds per game to go with 10.2 points.
California has bounced back from a 1-2 start in conference play to win three straight games after rallying for a 58-54 win over Washington State on Saturday.
“I thought we made plays defensively that took certain guys away and we did a good job of exploiting matchups on the other end as well,” California sophomore forward Ivan Rabb said. “In the end, a win is a win.”
Rabb leads the Bears with 15.6 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. Freshman Charlie Moore is averaging 14.6 points and a team-leading 3.1 assists, while senior guard Jabari Bird is scoring 13.4 points per game after registering his 1,000th career point in the win over the Cougars.