( NOTEBOOK ) OREGON HOLDS AT NO. 3 IN NEW AP POLL AFTER SCORCHING THE SUN DEVILS 79-48 – Red Hot Ducks Now Hit the Road for Four Straight Games, Including No. 7 UCLA

Sweet Revenge – Ever since the Ducks dropped a 72-66 game in Tempe to ASU way back on Jan. 10, they drew a huge red circle around Sunday afternoon’s date with the Sun Devils.

Oregon ( 22-2 / 11-1 ) has been looking forward to paying back the Devils for its second loss of the season and the Ducks did that in a big way with their 31-point win Sunday afternoon at Matthew Knight Arena.   

Not only were they looking to avenge that single disappointing loss, the Ducks have been using that disappointment as motivation to dismantle any team who’s in their way as they head to the post season. 

“It was definitely a revenge game for us knowing we are the better team and we knew we shouldn’t have lost that game,” Oregon guard Jaz Shelley said.   “We had a fire in our belly to come out here and to show them how we really play and the better team that we are.”

The Ducks are on a 10-game winning streak, destroying each opponent by an average of almost 24 points per game.   

Also, of those 10 games, six were against Top 12 teams, including No. 4 UConn in a true road game in Storrs, CT.

Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu gets knocked to the floor by the ASU defense during a drive to the basket. ( Photo courtesy of Tom Corno )

Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu gets knocked to the floor by the ASU defense during a drive to the basket. ( Photo courtesy of Tom Corno )


Basketball, Not Football – Many Pac-12 teams, including Oregon, have complained that Arizona State plays a rough brand of basketball.   Perhaps a bit too rough.

Every team has their own style of play.   Some like to slow it down, some like to play as fast as possible.   The Sun Devils like to play a very physical style of basketball where opponents have been known to come out of the game scratched up.   That’s simply the style for head coach Charli Turner Thorne.  For the most part, her style of play has worked for the Sun Devils as they’re a perennial tournament team.

History has shown that as long as ASU gets away with playing a tough style of basketball, its not going to stop.  Oregon might have let its emotions and frustrations get the better of them in the first half, despite holding a 27-15 halftime lead.

“It was really gritty, you could say,” Duck guard Erin Boley said. “We had to play tough, so it was a good feeling to keep a lead that big. There’s a lot of fouling. It was a very physical game.”

Boley also said that it’s been the same scouting report on ASU since she’s been in Eugene. It’s going to be a tough contest and that you have to be both physically and mentally prepared for a game like that.

“Always before you play a physical team like, to get ready, knowing you have to finish through contact and be ready to find open shooters on the perimeter when they collapse in,” she said.

For whatever reason, the officials blew the whistle on the Devils in the third quarter.   Oregon was in the bonus just four minutes into the quarter. As a result, ASU had to play straight up and Oregon blew the game wide open with a 30-15 advantage in the quarter and a 57-30 lead.

Sabrina Ionescu drives to the basket for two of her nineteen points Sunday vs Arizona State. ( Photo Courtesy of Tom Corno )

Sabrina Ionescu drives to the basket for two of her nineteen points Sunday vs Arizona State. ( Photo Courtesy of Tom Corno )

RED HOT SABRINA  (19 Pts, 7 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl)

» Raised career assists total to 997, putting her three away from becoming only the second player in NCAA men’s or women’s basketball history to record 2,000-plus points and 1,000-plus assists, and only the fifth women’s player ever to reach 1,000 assists.
» Extended UO all-time record with 125th career double-figure scoring game, and 94th in her last 95 games.
» Raised career totals to 2,397 points, 997 assists and 966 rebounds, contiuing her quest to become the first player in NCAA men’s or women’s basketball history to reach 2,000-plus points, 1,000-plus assists and 1,000-plus rebounds.
» Went 4-of-5 at the free-throw line, missing from the stripe for the first time in Pac-12 play this season; now 37-of-38 (97.4%) in conference action.
» Scored 13 of game-high 19 points in the first half while going 4-of-5 from the floor and 3-of-3 from three-point range.
» Recorded multiple steals for the 12th time this season.

FEBRUARY IS GO TIME

When the calendar turned the page to February ten days ago, the proverbial playoff switch turned on for this Oregon team.   With just six regular season games remaining and both the Pac-12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament squarely in front of them, this team is focused and has their eyes set on the prize.

“It’s just an energy level” explained Oregon head coach Kelly Graves after the game.

“They’re focused,…they’re dialed in,…they’re paying attention in practice.  We’re watching more film than we did earlier in the year.  It’s February,…February leads to March,…March leads to April.  Our kids know that the end is coming so we want to make sure that we’re playing our best basketball and continuing to improve each day, and I think we are.”

Another Tough Road Trip Ahead – The Ducks will now embark on yet another critical and difficult road trip with the Los Angeles schools up next.   No. 3 Oregon heads to Southern California to take on No. 7 UCLA (Feb. 14) and USC (Feb. 16) for the first time this season.   Following the Los Angeles schools, the Ducks remain on the road to take on the Bay Area schools.  The Ducks travel to California first (Feb. 21) and then to No. 8 Stanford (Feb. 24).

Oregon defeated Cal 105-55 and Stanford 87-55 earlier in the season.   For the second time this year, Oregon will play on ESPN’s Big Monday when they play the Cardinal on ESPN2.

~ Don Smalley

JAZ SHELLEY AND ERIN BOLEY TALK ASU WIN IN POST GAME

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