That’s the last time that Oregon started out the season 6-0 in conference play. They weren’t playing in the Pac-12 or the Pac-12 then. It was the Pacific Coast Conference. Mac Court wasn’t even built.
But on Tuesday night, the No. 16 Ducks moved to 6-0 in the Pac-12, 17-2 overall, with a 68-61 come-from-behind win over Washington State. Oregon shook off a sluggish start, using a 19-7 run — the last 10 of which were scored by EJ Singler — to erase a 39-29 halftime deficit, eventually taking control down the stretch. Singler scored 14 of his team-high 19 points in the second half.
It’s time to start believing. The Ducks are for real. They have a talented, albeit youthful, back court led by Damyeon Dotson and Dominic Artis that compliments their versatile front line nicely. Tony Woods takes up space in the paint, Arsalan Kazemi is the glue guy that does the dirty work, and Singler and Carlos Emory are the talented swingmen that allow the Ducks to go big (by putting them at the two and the three) or small (using them at the three and the four).
Oregon is as balanced as any team in the country, with five guys averaging between 10.1 points and 11.9 points and a sixth player — Kazemi — who leads the team in rebounding, averaging 9.5 boards, while chipping in with 8.8 points-per-game.
But that’s not why Oregon has become the overwhelming favorite to win the Pac-12 three weeks into league play.
It’s because they’ve beaten both UCLA and Arizona already this season, and they won’t have to face either UCLA or Arizona again.
As of today, the Ducks hold a one game lead in the loss column on both teams. After tonight, that lead will be push to two games over whoever loses when they square off tonight. UCLA and Arizona will square off again on March 2nd, and assuming that home-court advantage holds, the Ducks more-or-less have a two-game advantage in the Pac-12 and don’t have to play their two biggest challengers in the conference again this season.
That’s a good place to be.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.