Oregon Basketball: 3 takeaways from Ducks dominant win over Washington

Oregon Basketball blows out Washington for their 6th straight victory. The Ducks improve to 12-6 (5-2 Pac-12), firmly cementing themselves in the conference’s top four. What does this win over the Huskies really tell us about Dana Altman’s squad?

Coming into the year the Pac-12 seemed to have a pretty clear top team in UCLA, and then another top 25 caliber squad in Oregon. Fast forward to mid-December and Oregon Basketball looked like they were headed towards just their 2nd missed tournament in the past nine years (excluding 20-21 where there wasn’t a tournament). However, since losing to then #1 Baylor, Oregon has reeled off six straight including road wins over #3 UCLA and #5 USC.

Oregon jumped all over the Huskies from the opening tip, already holding a 22-point advantage 12 minutes in. Their suffocating defense held Washington to 15% shooting in the first half, scoring only 13 total points which tied Will Richardson’s individual total for the first 20 minutes. Oregon coasted in the 2nd half allowing Washington to score 43 points, but the lead was never threatened, finishing with a 28-point victory, 84-56.

Oregon is now 5-2 in the Conference of Champions and a serious threat to Arizona and UCLA at the top of the Pac-12. Oregon will look to extend their winning streak to seven games on Tuesday when they host the Colorado Buffalos in a game that was previously supposed to be played on January 3rd.

1. Will Richardson Can Be That Go-To Guy

Will Richardson was picked by many (including us writers at Busting Brackets) to be the player most likely to win Pac-12 POY behind Johnny Juzang. Oregon’s slow start to the season and Richardson’s up and down play to begin 2021-22 made this seem like a bad take. However, the Ducks have turned things around and are one of the hottest teams in the country right now and a lot of that can be contributed to the play of their 6’5 point guard.

During this current six-game win streak he is averaging 20 ppg, including a 28-point, 4-rebound, 4-assist performance against No. 5 USC. What stood out to me the most is his three-point shooting. Richardson is shooting a blistering 45.1% from beyond the arc on 4.8 attempts per contest. His unreal shooting numbers have led to it being even easier to get to the basket with that left hand of his.

Richardson was once again spectacular, putting up 24 points (8-11 FG), four assists, and three rebounds Sunday night against Washington. Oregon will need Richardson to keep up his stellar play if they want to compete for a conference title.

2. Ducks Defense Can Be Elite

Oregon has always seemed to have an elite shot-blocker on their teams over the past few years, whether that be Kenny Wooten, Jordan Bell, or Bol Bol. The past two seasons they have been missing this key piece, but I think they might have found another one in Franck Kepnang. Kepnang is blocking a ridiculous 3.2 blocks per 40 minutes for the Ducks.

Jacob Young has brought his high defensive energy to the Pac-12 and it was rubbed off on some of his teammates as well. Young transferred into Oregon after leading the Big Ten in steals per game (1.8) last year at Rutgers. Oregon’s energizer bunny has continued his thievery in his new threads, leading the team with 1.3 steals per contest.

Both players put their defensive skills on display against Washington Sunday night as Kepnang recorded a block, while Young was credited with 3 steals. As a team, Oregon held Washington to 30.9% shooting while forcing 23 turnovers.

3. Dana Altman is Doing What Dana Altman Does

Dana Altman-led teams continue to peak at the right time. The Ducks looked like they were in for one of their worst seasons in the Dana Altman era, after a 5-5 start that was capped off by back-to-back losses to Pac-12 opponents in Arizona State and Stanford. After beating Portland, the Ducks somehow found themselves in front at halftime against then #1 Baylor in what seemed like it could be the turning point for the team. Oregon squandered the lead, allowing 43 2nd half Baylor points to bring them back to .500 once again.

After that heartbreaking loss to Baylor, it only seemed inevitable that Oregon wouldn’t be able to turn their season around. However, they have Dana Altman as their coach. We have seen it time and time again, Altman finds a way to make his team come together and peak heading into the months of February and March and this season is no exception. Oregon has now won six straight and is a serious contender in one of the most competitive top of the leagues in college basketball.