It wasn’t pretty but if you’re Oregon at this point in the season, a win is a win and positive momentum is always a good thing.
Fighting off a pair of Cal rallies while struggling to take care of the ball, the Ducks were able to hang on and pull away in the end for the 73-62 victory over the Golden Bears. With the win, Oregon evened its conference record at 5-5 (14-9 overall), just 1.5 games behind a three-way tie for second place.
Payton Pritchard finished with his second career double-double, totaling 20 points and 10 rebounds. After struggling for much of Pac-12 play, he seemed to find his stroke from beyond the arc, knocking down 5-of-9 and 7-of-14 overall.
"I shot definitely a lot better. I just have to keep making strides," Pritchard said. "I kind of just tightened up my form, not thinking as much. I'm just playing ball."
Even with the win, it wasn’t as clean as head coach Dana Altman would’ve liked.
The Ducks finished with 15 turnovers, leading to 17 Cal points. It was a combination of laziness protecting the ball and just playing out of control, points of emphasis that Altman expected his team to grow out of by this point in the season.
“The turnovers really took away from some of the good things we did,” Altman said. “We do some things that I’ve got no explanation for. We just got to be smarter than that. We’ve got to be more basketball savvy than that, make simple plays.”
It wasn’t the greatest start for the Ducks as turnovers plagued them early. They finished with 11 first half turnovers, allowing 12 points to the Golden Bears that prevented Oregon from blowing the game open early.
Leading 13-8 following a Will Richardson jumper, the Ducks felt apart offensively, struggling to take care of the ball and settling for off-balance, contested jumpers late in the shot clock. Cal followed through with a quick 7-0 run to take their only lead of the game.
The Ducks then settled down and took care of the ball. Using their pressure defense to get force their own turnovers and get out in transition, Oregon went on a 17-2 run to take a 32-21 lead at the break.
Oregon quickly expanded its lead to 37-21 in the second half, but Cal wouldn’t go away quietly. More turnovers by turnovers by the Ducks led to a 7-0 run by the Golden Bears — at that point half of Cal’s 28 points came via the turnover.
The Ducks pushed their lead to double digits on a jumper by Victor Bailey Jr. at the 12:25 mark, and it stayed there until the Golden Bears hit a three-pointer with 1:55 remaining, making the score 67-58.
Instead of struggling to close out the game, like the Ducks have in the past, Oregon continued to pressure both sides of the ball and finished the game by outscoring Cal the rest of the way.
Pritchard got help from his teammates as Louis King (12 points), Paul White (11) and Kenny Wooten (11) all scored in double-figures. Wooten was particularly impressive, igniting the crowd with a flurry of weakside blocks and massive dunks that helped change the momentum of the game.
Richardson, despite five turnovers, was particularly effective running the offense, finishing with eight points and a career-high nine assists.
Oregon will now try to get their first weekend sweep in Pac-12 play when they host Stanford on Sunday. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.