Oregon Take Pac-12 Title

Florence Fletcher
March 22, 2019

No. 5 seed Wisconsin (23-10) meets 12th-seeded OR (23-12) on Friday in San Jose, with the Ducks having just won four games in as many days for the Pac-12 tournament title.

OR went to the Big Dance in five consecutive seasons from 2013-17 under coach Dana Altman, highlighted by a trip to the Final Four in 2017.

A turnaround for the ages.

No. 6 OR (22-10, 10-8) vs. After allowing UCLA to score 62 points in the second half, the Ducks held their next six opponents to less than 62 points for the entire game.

The Big Ten had eight teams make the field: No. 2 seeds Michigan and Michigan State, No. 3 seed Purdue, No. 5 seed Wisconsin, No. 6 seed Maryland, No. 10 seeds Minnesota and Iowa, and No. 11 seed Ohio State. The last time OR did that was 1982-83, three years before the shot clock.

He pointed to what Hopkins also addressed in his defense of Arizona State's resume: The non-conference season. Jordan Poole added 13 and Jon Teske chipped in 10 points and 10 rebounds.

"We also realize that we're susceptible as every team is in this tournament and sometimes that's as valuable to know instead of thinking you're invincible", Bennett said Friday of the NCAA Tournament. Friday will mark the third time in the last six years that OR and the Badgers have met on March 22 in the NCAA Tournament. Bol went down with a foot injury in a win against the Boise State Broncos. They lost twice to the Oregon State Beavers. The last time OR was sent to San Jose for the NCAA Tournament was 2013.

The three South Region teams that will join Wisconsin in San Jose - Oregon, UC-Irvine and Kansas State - all took unique routes to the NCAA Tournament.

The team that advances from Corvallis will head to the Albany Regional for the Sweet 16. They won their first share of a regular season conference title since 2013, sharing the honors with Texas Tech.

Realistic Tournament hopes faded fast for Oregon.

Junior guard Payton Pritchard from West Linn High was named Pac-12 tournament MVP.

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Paul White gets fired up. Not making the Pac-12 championship game, he said, shouldn't matter. The agreement runs through the 2025-26 season and is meant to be funded through philanthropy. Then, 30 minutes later, the Ducks will play the Vikings, who are the Big Sky Conference Tournament champions.

"Everyone kind of came together at the right time", said Oregon's Louis King, who had 15 points. Oregon's only first round exits during that span came in 2008, 2009 and 2012.

The visual that will stick with Duck fans was his electrifying left-handed dunk at the end of the game against Washington, which served as an exclamation point, not only for Saturday's win, but for the Ducks' season-ending surge as well. No other Pac-12 team is ranked in the top 75. He finished 2019 with 19 career wins in the Pac-12 Tournament. Arizona State is No. 63 and Colorado is No. 67.

Morant is this tournament's man of mystery, most people only aware of his exploits through quick Twitter videos, "SportsCenter" highlights and his placement in mock National Basketball Association drafts, but he did lead the nation in assists.

No Washington player scored in double figures.

Through the first 22 games this season, Wisconsin was among the best 3-point shooting teams in the country at 40.2 percent.

Oregon's defense over the last three weeks has not only been good, it is historically remarkable. Like Oregon as a whole, Wooten has played very well lately, recording four blocks in each of his last two games. The last time OR did that was early in the 1982-83 season: Rutgers (53), San Diego State (49), St. Olaf (39), Montana State (55), Idaho (56) and Lamar (41).

And then OR started winning.

The recipe has been a weird one for the Ducks. Wisconsin went 14-6 in Big 10 play and beat Xavier, Stanford and Oklahoma in nonconference games.

Not surprisingly, OR has set the program record for wins over a nine-season period, now with 233.

Contrary to preseason expectations, the Ducks' upperclassmen have been the story of the year.

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