The white-knuckle grip Oregon had on first place in the Pac-12 entering the week is no longer nearly so tight anymore.
In fact, by the time the weekend is over, the Ducks may not be alone in first place anymore.
Two nights after wholly non-competitive 20-point loss at Cal, Oregon didn’t show up for the first 35 minutes Saturday against a Stanford team that will need a late-season surge to reach the NIT. The Ducks rallied from an 11-point deficit to briefly tie the game, but their comeback stalled and they fell 76-72.
Oregon was within one in the final minute when Dillon Brooks missed a jumper from the wing and Oregon sent Stanford’s Marcus Allen to the foul line with 13 seconds to play. Allen split a pair of free throws, but Brooks again could not come through, this time because he didn’t get a call when Stanford’s Michael Humphrey blocked his difficult runner.
Allen sank two free throws with three seconds remaining, sealing a Stanford win and narrowing Oregon’s lead in the conference standings to just a half game. Arizona could tie the Ducks for first place on Sunday if the Wildcats are able to defeat USC at home.
Oregon’s two-loss week also opens the door for other teams to get back into the Pac-12 title chase. In addition to the Wildcats, USC, Utah, Colorado and Cal are all now within a game of the Ducks in the loss column.
What went wrong for Oregon on Saturday was a listless defensive performance. The Ducks allowed Stanford to shoot 55 percent from the field and let the Cardinal’s leading scorer Allen erupt for 25 points on 9-for-12 shooting. Big man Grant Verhoeven also scored 13 points, 11 above his season average.
Brooks led Oregon with 24 points and Tyler Dorsey had 14 but it wasn’t enough to overcome Stanford’s efficient attack. As a result, the Ducks return home in far shakier position than they were when they arrived in the Bay Area 72 hours ago.
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