Colorado-Oregon Preview

BY foxsports • February 3, 2016

Halfway to its first regular-season conference championship in 14 years, Oregon realizes it needs to maintain its focus to win the formidable Pac-12.

The thought of payback could still creep into the 16th-ranked Ducks' minds, however, when they host surging Colorado on Thursday night with an opportunity to avenge their last loss.

By winning seven of eight and ending defending league champion Arizona's 49-game home winning streak last week, Oregon (18-4, 7-2) is poised to capture its first conference season title since claiming the Pac-10 in 2001-02. Five of the Ducks' remaining nine games reside at Matthew Knight Arena, where they've won 20 straight to take over the Pac-12's longest active run.

''We put ourselves in a good position winning these two games,'' forward Elgin Cook said after Sunday's 91-74 victory at Arizona State. ''But it's a real deep league. We just don't want any slip-ups.''

Oregon did have a stumble in its Jan. 17 visit to Boulder, where the Buffaloes had five players score in double figures to earn a 91-87 win. Colorado (17-5, 6-3) followed with a loss at Washington but has bounced back with three consecutive wins to remain on the Ducks' heels in the conference race.

The Buffaloes' 6-3 start matches their best since joining the Pac-12 for the 2011-12 season.

Colorado leads the conference in 3-point percentage (41.2) and free-throw percentage (73.9) while ranking second with a plus-9.4 rebounding margin. All were factors in last month's meeting with Oregon, as the Buffaloes finished 8 of 14 from beyond the arc and 25 of 32 from the foul line while outrebounding the Ducks 39-25.

The Buffaloes shot 37.9 percent and missed 18 of their first 19 attempts Sunday against California, but went on an 18-3 run later in the first half en route to a 70-62 win.

"Besides me, everybody else knew (we) were going to make some shots," said center John Scott, who totaled 17 points and 11 rebounds in the Jan. 17 victory. "We knew we weren't going to shoot the ball that way for the entire game. We came out and hit two 3s that put us back in attack range. From there on out, we kept getting stops and scoring."

A similar cold stretch may be harder to overcome against Oregon, which last lost in Eugene on Jan. 8, 2015 to then-No. 7 Arizona. The Ducks are averaging 87.3 points over a four-game winning streak and are shooting 41.3 percent from 3 and 50.8 overall over their last six.

Dillon Brooks is averaging 20.5 points during that six-game stretch and had 11 of his 18 in the second half against Arizona State, helping Oregon outscore the Sun Devils 54-38 after the break. Chris Boucher, the Division I co-leader with 3.27 blocks per game, added a career-high 26 points along with 10 rebounds and seven blocks.

''The way that they really separated themselves was with their athletic ability, their length and their ability to create turnovers with that,'' Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said, ''and also they were able to block shots.''

Oregon has allowed its last three opponents to make 43.9 percent of their 3-point attempts, a potential issue against Colorado's perimeter trio of George King, Dominique Collier and Josh Fortune. Collier leads the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage (49.2), King is 10 of 14 over his last three games and Fortune went 5 of 7 during a season-best 21-point effort in a 91-75 win over Stanford on Jan. 27.

Colorado has won five of seven in the series but has lost in three of its past four visits to Oregon.

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