Taggart bolts for Florida State

After turnaround season, Oregon football coach goes back to Florida
Staff report

Willie Taggart is headed back South, accepting the Florida State football head coaching position not quite a year after leaving the University of South Florida to become head coach at of the University of Oregon program.

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens made the announcement Tuesday, and FSU introduced Taggart to its community on Wednesday.

A native of Bradenton, Fla., Taggart, 41, began his head-coaching career by turning around Western Kentucky from 2010-2012, before doing the same at South Florida from 2013-2016. His debut years at Western Kentucky and USF both ended with two-win seasons, but not only did he turn those schools around, he did so quickly and efficiently. His second and third seasons at Western Kentucky ended with seven wins, culminating with a bowl trip in 2012.

In Tampa, he turned a USF program from 2-10 to 10-2 in just three seasons, with the biggest factor in that being his recruiting ability. He locked down the highly-coveted Tampa recruiting scene at USF and, in this last year, even got Tampa-area blue-chip recruits to cross the country with him and commit to Oregon - making the incoming class the top-rated in the nation.

In Eugene, the Ducks went from 4-8, to 7-5, with four of the five losses coming while sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert recovered from a shoulder injury.

Taggart's move was expected after Texas A&M fired Kevin Sumlin last week, and replaced him with Jimbo Fisher from FSU.

Oregon is set to play Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 26.


Oregon steps forward again

The Ducks reach the Pac-12 Tournament final for third-straight year
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS – Dylan Ennis was prone on the hardwood, looking up to the ceiling of T-Mobile Arena. He was flexing. He was yelling. He knew the Ducks were bound for the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament championship game.

Just seconds earlier with the Ducks holding a two-point lead, he put his head down and went to the rim, making contact with Cal’s 7-footer Kingsley Okoroh. As Ennis fell to the floor, the ball dropped through the hoop and Ducks fans in attendance went wild. Once he buried the free throw Oregon had a five-point lead with 22 seconds left and no worries.

Ennis’ key play loomed large in the 73-65 win, which sets up the top-seeded Ducks with No. 2 seed Arizona in Saturday’s Pac-12 Tourney title game, Oregon’s third straight under coach Dana Altman.

“I love Oregon basketball,” Ennis said. “For us to be in the championship again shows that we’re one of the national powerhouses. I think a lot of people are going to start respecting us around the country.”

The contest got off to a sobering start when Cal star senior Jabari Bird landed on his head after toppling over Oregon’s Jordan Bell trying to block a shot. Bird had to leave the game just one minute after it started, and was eventually placed on a stretcher and transported to a hospital for CT scans, according to Pac-12 Networks’ Ashley Adamson.

In Bird’s absence, Cal guard Grant Mullins did a fine impression, going 7-of-8 from the field and 5-of-5 from beyond the arc en route to 23 points, but the Bears couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch.

“It's a big loss, especially on the offensive side of the ball, that level of production,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “It's not an easy thing to do, but I thought our guys did a great job battling and competing.”

Likewise, Oregon's scoring leader, Dillon Brooks, spent a lot of time on the sidelines Friday. He only played 21 minutes after picking up his fourth foul two minutes into the second half, sitting out the next 13 minutes of the game.

With Brooks spending nearly half the game on the bench, Dorsey paced the Ducks offense with 23 points, going 9-of-13 from the floor and 5-of-6 from distance. Dorsey scored eight of Oregon’s first 12 points and never took his foot off the pedal.

“Everybody has to pick it up and pick up their role,” Dorsey said. “That's what we did tonight. We can't control how the refs are going to call it, and they called a couple on Dillon early and everybody had to pick up.”

Meanwhile, Brooks finished with 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting and grabbed six rebounds, taking responsibility for his performance in the locker room following the game.

“I had an off day,” Brooks said. “Shots weren’t falling and I was fouling a lot, cheap fouls. But you know, it’s a team game and my teammates picked me up.”

Oregon carried a 36-33 lead into the locker room at halftime before stretching the lead to as many as 13 with about 13 minutes left. But Cal crept back, eventually cutting the lead to just two when freshman Charlie Moore sank a couple of big free throws the possession before Ennis’ and-one. Moore played beyond his years once again, scoring 15 points, but the Bears are now relegated to waiting on Selection Sunday to see if their name is called.

Ducks soar in second half

Oregon overcomes horrid first half for 68-65 win at Cal
Staff report

A season-low point total in the first half only served to make Wednesday's game at Cal more exciting for Oregon men's basketball fans who travelled to Berkeley, Calif.

Dillon Brooks scored the final three of his 22 points on a long-range shot with 0.2 seconds left to rally the No. 6 Ducks to a 68-65 win over the upset-minded Golden Bears.

Cal held Oregon to just 16 points through 20 minutes - a low for any team coach Dana Altman has guided since arriving in Eugene in 2010, and led 32-16 early in the second half. Oregon still trailed by 10 with 4:15 left before finding a rhythm behind Dillon Brooks and Christian Boucher, who combined for 35 points in the second half.

Oregon finally took its first lead with 1:51 left on a Boucher lay-up, and eventually finished the game on a 19-6 run capped by Brooks' basket - his second game-winning shot in the final second this season.

Oregon improved to 25-4 overall and 14-2 in Pac-12 play heading into a road game at Stanford Saturday.

Cal dropped to 18-9, 9-6, and will play host to Oregon State Saturday.



Beavers head to NCAAs on a roll

OSU wins the Pac-12 Tournament to continue hot streak
March 6, 2016 / Staff report

SEATTLE - Oregon State finally conquered the Pac-12 where it counts, the conference tournament.

Senior center Ruth Hamblin had 23 points, a career-high 20 rebounds and five blocked shots on Sunday night to lead the seventh-ranked Beavers to a 69-57 victory over UCLA in the championship game of the Pacific-12 Conference women's basketball tournament.

It was the first title in school history for the Beavers (28-4), who fell to USC in 2014 in their only other championship-game appearance. It was also their 18th win in the last 19 games.

“This is an unreal feeling,” Hamblin said. “The Pac-12 is so competitive … we worked so hard and we played like our lives were on the line.”

Pac-12 Player of the Year Jamie Weisner earned more hardware by being named the tournament’s Outstanding Player. She had 19 points and five rebounds on Sunday and 59 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists in three tournament wins.

“I don’t think I’ve ever cried after a win but that happened tonight,” Weisner said. “I’m just blessed to be part of this program. We came a long way in four years and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Junior guard Sydney Wiese had 21 points and joined Weisner and Hamblin on the all-tournament team. Senior forward Deven Hunter added five points and 12 rebounds to help OSU double the Bruins on the boards, 50-24.

“If you know the whole story of where we started to where we are now is remarkable,” sixth-year OSU coach Scott Rueck said. “The performance we put together tonight is what dreams are made of.

“Ruth was unbelievable. It’s hard to score against us 5-on-5 and a lot of that is because of Ruth. She has continued to improve and it’s been fabulous to watch.”

OSU used a 17-2 run over the final 6:38 of the first half to take a 44-17 intermission lead, and it led by 31 points late in the third quarter. UCLA got within 63-54 with 2:12 remaining, but Weisner answered with a basket with 1:43 to play to restore the double-digit lead and a layup by Hamblin with one minute left buried the Bruins once and for all.

“We were dialed, our shots were falling,” Wiese said of the first half. “To win this year means a lot,” after falling in the title game in 2014 and being upset in the opening round in 2015. “It was a team win. I couldn’t be prouder of everyone.”

The Beavers led by as many as 31 points in downing the Bruins for second time in three games this season. UCLA won in early January when Wiese was sidelined with a hand injury.

Hamblin had a double-double in each tournament game and totaled 50 points, 44 rebounds and 11 blocks. Her 20 rebounds eclipsed her previous high on 19, set against California on Feb. 28, and tied the school record.

She set the career tournament record for blocked shots (29) and also set a Pac-12 blocks record with 405. The old mark was 402, set by Stefanie Kaspersky of Oregon from 1987-90.

OSU advanced to the championship game by defeating USC 63-53 in the quarterfinals on Friday night and Washington 57-55 in the semifinals on Saturday night.

The Beavers started quickly, hitting 4 of 6 3-pointers in the first quarter while building a 20-12 advantage. Weisner had two 3-pointers and eight points; Wiese had five points, and Hamblin had four points and six rebounds.

The poured it on in the second quarter, outscoring the Bruins 24-5 to take a 44-17 halftime advantage. Wiese was 4 of 5 from deep and had 18 first-half points; Weisner had 12 points, Hamblin nine points and 11 rebounds and Hunter five points, nine rebounds and four assists.

“It was amazing,” Wiese said of the first half. “It started with our defense, we were getting open, making shots and things were real clicking.”

UCLA was 8-for-34 from the field in the first half and missed both 3-point attempts. In the four quarters that essentially determined the championship – the second half of the semifinals and the first half of the finals – OSU held its opponent to 35 points, 14 of 66 shooting overall (.212) and 1-for-11 (.091) shooting from beyond the arc.

The Beavers will learn the destination and opponent for the upcoming NCAA tournament during the NCAA Selection Show, scheduled for 4 p.m. March 14 on ESPN.

The first two rounds of the 64-team tournament will be held March 18-21 at 16 campus sites around the country. The Women’s Final Four is April 3-5 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Ducks headed for key playoffs

Will a trip to the Final Four get passion for the UO program back to The Pit level?
March 7, 2016

If something dramatic happens to the University of Oregon football team - like a dramatic turnaround that’s happened in the past decade at schools such as Michigan and Texas, could the Ducks become a basketball school?

After all, the team is headed for its fourth-straight NCAA Tournament after winning the Pac-12 regular season title. And the team appears built for post-season success for many years with a hot coach in Dana Altman.

So, could Eugene be as much a basketball town as football? That’s a key topic for the ninth episode of Sportsland, Oregon 2016.

As the Ducks head into the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas, and then a possible No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, a strong result (Final Four) could get the passion for the program heading toward making it one of the stronger ones in the conference. And will that passion ever approach what it was at The Pit in it's newer, plush arena - The Mat?

The Blazers, Timbers and youth basketball all come up from our base at Pour Sports in Southeast Portland.

Ducks own the Pac-12

Oregon heads into tournament with top seed after weekend sweep
March 6, 2016 / Staff report

LOS ANGELES - The University of Oregon might be a basketball school, not football. At least for the spring.

Tyler Dorsey scored 19 points, Elgin Cook added 17 and No. 9 Oregon beat Southern California 76-66 on Saturday to clinch the Pac-12 title outright, the Ducks’ first since 2002 and fifth in school history.

Oregon (25-6, 14-4) overcame a 20-minute power outage in the first half at Galen Center and the Trojans’ early run in the second half to close out the regular season with its fifth straight victory and 11th in 13 games.

The Trojans (20-11, 9-9) lost to Oregon for the 12th straight time, the Ducks’ longest-ever winning streak against USC. Katin Reinhardt and Nikola Jovanovic scored 12 points each, and Jordan McLaughlin added 10 for the Trojans, who went 2-6 in their last eight games.

The Trojans opened both halves strong, outscoring the Ducks 13-4 to start the second half and take a 50-48 lead, their first since early in the game. After going 9 of 10 from the free throw line in the first half, they struggled in the second, making just 8 of 18.

USC tied the game for the last time at 52-all on Reinhardt’s inside basket, but made just one field goal in the final five minutes.

Casey Benson’s three-pointer gave the Ducks a 63-56 lead after Dillon Brooks made his first basket of the game with 8 minutes to go. Brooks came in averaging a team-leading 17.2 points but got two fouls in the first half and went 1-of-6 from the field.

Dwayne Benjamin added 14 points and Jordan Bell had 10 for the Ducks, who extended their lead to 10 points on Benjamin’s three-pointer with less than two minutes to go.

The lights inside Galen Center went out with 5  minutes left in the first half and Oregon leading 31-22. The Ducks were in the midst of a 28-7 run that produced their largest lead, 37-22. Cook scored nine points and Dorsey added eight in the spurt.

Once the lights came back on, the Ducks scored six straight to finish their big run. The Trojans answered with a 15-7 spurt, getting 3-pointers from Reinhardt and Bennie Boatwright, to end the half trailing 44-37.

Shrugging off their history of slow starts, the Trojans opened the game by outscoring the Ducks 15-9. Cook and Dorsey combined to score 13 straight points in launching the Ducks’ dominant offensive stretch that helped them shoot 59 percent in the half.

TIP-INS: The Ducks are the top seed for the league tourney in Las Vegas. ... They swept the L.A. schools, having beaten UCLA 76-68 on Thursday, when Dorsey scored 20 points. ... They improved to 16-0 when holding opponents under 70 points.

UP NEXT: Oregon opens the Pac-12 Tournament as the top seed Thursday in Las Vegas at noon.

Oregon handles Western sweep

Ducks beat Utah to keep Pac-12 momentum going
Feb. 7, 2016 / Staffl

EUGENE - Any campaign for Oregon’s Dillon Brooks as Pac-12 player of the year might have to start with an endorsement from a coach outside his own camp.

Utah coach Larry Kyrstkowiak saw enough Sunday to believe Brooks might have the right stuff.

“If we get a chance to play him again this year, we’re going to have to get back to the drawing board and come up with a different plan as to how we’re going to defend it because he’s hurt us,” Kyrstkowiak said. “And not just us.

“He’s an all-Pac-12 player at this point and he’s playing at a really high level.”

Brooks had 30 points and nine assists, both career highs, to lead No. 16 Oregon to a 76-66 victory over Utah.

“We didn’t have an answer for Dillon Brooks,” Krystkowiak added. “That was a huge difference in the game.”

Chris Boucher added 15 points and Elgin Cook had 12 for the Ducks (20-4, 9-2 Pac-12), who won their sixth consecutive game and 22nd straight at home, one shy of the school record.

Brooks, who had the first 30-point game for Oregon this season, had six rebounds.

“People tend to put everything on the offensive end, and he had a great game offensively,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “He had a couple of communication gaps on the defensive end, and I don’t know if it was his best (game), but it ranks right up there.

“It was a great performance.”

Kyle Kuzma led the Utes (17-7, 6-5) with 18 points and Jordan Loveridge had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jakob Poeltl, the Pac-12’s second-leading scorer at 17.4 points per game, had 13 points and eight rebounds

Oregon made the Utes pay for their 14 turnovers by converting them into 19 points.

The Ducks’ biggest lead was 55-39 on a three-point play by Brooks. Four times the Utes cut the deficit to single digits, and on each occasion, Oregon answered with the ball going through Brooks on all four possessions.

“Dillon was confident, he made a lot of shots and did a lot of good things for us,” Cook said. “He played a real solid game.”

Brooks capped his 17-point second half with a 3 in the last minute for the Ducks’ final points.

Despite his team’s 1 1/2-game lead atop the Pac-12 standings with seven games to go in the regular season, Altman, who didn’t make Brooks available for postgame interviews, was a tougher sell on the sophomore’s candidacy for player of year.

“ I just don’t believe a player of the year can be on a team that’s not one or two or three (in the Pac-12) and in the hunt right to the end,” Altman said, “and I think it’s going to be a hunt right to the end. There’s a lot of good teams.”

The lead changed hands seven times before an 11-2 run, capped by Boucher’s high-bouncing 3-pointer, helped put the Ducks up 41-35 at halftime. Brooks had 13 points and four assists.

OSU handles national audience

OSU dominates Arizona State on ESPN to move atop Pac-12 standings
Feb. 1, 2016 / Staff Report

Any doubt the Oregon State women's basketball team is the class of the Pac-12 Conference evaporated Monday night at Gill Colisem.

Powered by a 25-point performance by guard Jamie Weisner, the Beavers pummeled Arizona State 67-44 to move into a tie with the Sun Devils atop the conference standings. The battle between top-10 foes played out on ESPN2, and gave the Beavers an edge in the overall seeding for the conference tournament.

Weisner played the key role in the win, hitting 9 of her 10 shots from the field, including all 3-point attempts. She added five rebounds and three assists in the outcome.

Point guard Sydney Wiese added 14 points and six assists in the game, which OSU led by only two points at halftime. The Beavers won the second half by 21 points.

With the win, the ninth-ranked Beavers improved to 18-3 overall and 9-1 in conference play. ASU, ranked No. 8, dropped to 18-4, 9-1. The teams do not meet again in the regular season.

Oregon State, which beat Ariaona 71-43 on Friday, is the defending conference champion, and plays at Washington and Washington State this weekend.



Oregon shows it's tournament ready

The Ducks sweep through Arizona with win Sunday night
Jan. 31, 2016 / Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. - Chris Boucher scored a career-high 26 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked seven shots as the 23rd-ranked Oregon Ducks beat Arizona State 91-74 and took sole possession of first place halfway through the Pac-12 season Sunday.

“Unbelievable game,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “He really, really changed the game. He was super tonight.”

Dillon Brooks added 18 points and Tyler Dorsey 16 for the Ducks (18-4, 7-2), who won their fourth straight and seventh in the last eight games. Oregon is ahead of four teams at 6-3 in conference play.

“We put ourselves in a good position winning these two games,” Oregon’s Elgin Cook said. “But it’s a real deep league. We just don’t want any slip-ups.”

Boucher was the national junior college player of the year last season at Northwest College in Wyoming and transferred to Oregon despite never playing an organized game until age 19. He’s listed as a senior but has appealed to have another year of eligibility restored.

In this one, he hurt the Sun Devils from inside and outside, sinking a career-best four 3-pointers in eight attempts and swatting away repeated Arizona State drives at the rim.

“Boucher is a lot tougher than he looks,” Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley said. “... He was flawless with his shooting. He was driving it, he was dunking it, he was blocking shots. He’s a big-time player.”

Obinna Oleka scored 17 points and Gerry Blakes 15 for the Sun Devils (12-10, 2-7).

Oregon completed a sweep of the Arizona teams in the desert. The Ducks ended No. 18 Arizona’s 49-game homecourt winning streak with an 83-75 win in Tucson on Thursday night.

Altman warned his team of a possible letdown after such a big win.

“He was like, `You know, if we lose to Arizona State it doesn’t matter if you beat Arizona,” Boucher said.

The coach said it helped that the team had an extra day off to get over the Arizona victory and ready for the Sun Devils.

“This is one place where the schedule did us a favor I thought by giving us an extra day,” Altman said.

Leading just 37-36 at the break Sunday, Oregon scored the first seven points of the second half from the foul line and the Sun Devils never caught up again.

Three-pointers by Kodi Justice and Blakes cut the Ducks’ lead to 53-50, then Boucher sank consecutive 3s, Brooks made two free throws and scored inside and a 12-2 run put Oregon up 65-52 with 8 minutes to play.

Tra Holder’s 3 cut the lead to 70-63 but Arizona State could get no closer. A technical foul on Hurley for complaining on a foul call resulted in Dorsey sinking three free throws to put the Ducks up 73-63 with 4:57 left.

Hurley wasn’t happy with the free-throw discrepancy. Oregon was 29 of 38 at the line, the Sun Devils 14 of 17.

“The free-throw differential killed us,” he said. “Thirty-eight and 17 (attempts). They outshot us at the free-throw line by 15 and the final score was 17.”

The Ducks jumped to a 13-0 lead but Arizona State outscored them 23-7 over the next 8 1/2 minutes to take a 23-20 lead. There were four ties and three lead changes in the first 20 minutes.

“The way that they really separated themselves was with their athletic ability, their length and their ability to create turnovers with that,” Hurley said, “and also they were able to block shots.”

The Ducks were 9 for 9 at the foul line in the first 1:45 of the second half to assist the win.

Oregon plays host Colorado Thursday night.


Ducks score huge win

Oregon ends Arizona's 49-game home winning streak with stellar effort
Jan. 27, 2016 / Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. - Dillon Brooks scored 24 points, and No. 23 Oregon ended Arizona’s 49-game home winning streak with an 83-75 victory over the No. 18 Wildcats on Thursday night at the McHale Center.

Dwayne Benjamin added 15, Elgin Cook had 13 and Tyler Dorsey had 12 for the Ducks (17-4, 6-2 Pac-12), who entered the game tied for first in the Pac-12.

Ryan Anderson scored 22, and Gabe York had 18 for the Wildcats (16-5, 4-4), who lost at home for the first time since California beat them 77-69 on Feb. 10, 2013. It was the longest active home winning streak in the country.

The Ducks outscored Arizona 19-11 over the final 6 minutes.

The Wildcats committed 19 turnovers to Oregon’s six.

Trailing 42-41 at the half, Oregon took its first lead of the night on Cook’s 3 with 16:08 to play. It was part of a 10-0 Ducks run that was capped by Benjamin’s 3-pointer, boosting the lead to 52-46 with 15:30 to go.

Arizona’s Parker-Jackson Cartwright sank a 3-pointer from the baseline to tie the score at 64-64 with 7:25 to play, but the Ducks scored the next eight points. Benjamin was fouled on a 3-point try and made all three free throws, then Brooks sank his second 3-pointer, and Oregon led 72-64 with 4:47 to play.

The Wildcats led the entire first half. They made their first eight shots of the game to bolt to an 18-7 lead and were up 26-13 after Parker Jackson-Cartwright sank a 3-pointer with 11:24 left in the half.

But in a fast-paced game, the Ducks climbed back in it.

Kaleb Tarczewski’s two free throws put Arizona up 42-36 1:25 before the break.

But Benson followed with a 3-pointer to make it 42-39 1:02 left .

After the teams exchanged possessions, Oregon had an out-of-bounds play with 2.1 seconds left, and Dorsey broke free for a layup at the buzzer to cut Arizona’s lead to 42-41 at the break.

It was the only time the teams will play in the regular season.

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