Oregon breaks into top 10, highest ranking since '07
The Oregon Ducks broke into the top 10 in the AP poll on Monday for their highest ranking since 2007.
Oregon jumped four spots in the rankings to No. 9 after defeating Washington State 76-62 last Wednesday and rival Washington 86-73 on Sunday night. The Ducks haven't been ranked this high before in head coach Dana Altman's tenure.
With the victories, Oregon finished a perfect 18-0 at home this season.
''Amazing,'' said senior guard Dwayne Benjamin of his final game at Matthew Knight Arena. ''Just like the first one when I first played, I was so excited and the fans were great. This was a perfect way to go out for me.''
It was the fifth time the Ducks have gone undefeated at home, and the first time since the 2001-02 season. Oregon extended its home winning streak, dating back to last season, to a school-record 25 games.
The Ducks (23-6, 12-4 Pac-12) will wrap up the regular season this week with in Los Angeles with a Wednesday night game against UCLA before the finale Saturday at USC.
With a victory in one of the final two games, Oregon will clinch at least a share of the Pac-12 regular season title. It's been 14 years since the last one.
''Yeah, it's a possibility,'' senior forward Elgin Cook said. ''We just want to go in and worry about UCLA. They're a good offensive rebounding team, Bryce Alford is shooting the ball and it's going to be a fight. They play well at home as well, so it's going to be a fight.''
Cook matched his career high with 26 points against the Huskies.
Oregon sits atop the Pac-12 standings, with Utah (23-7, 12-5) a half-game back, followed by California (21-8, 11-5), which has won six straight. Arizona (22-7, 12-6) is two games behind the Ducks.
The Utes shook up the top half of the conference by beating the Wildcats 70-64 on Saturday. As a result, Utah rose nine spots in the AP rankings to No. 13, while Arizona dropped from No. 9 to No. 18. Cal popped into the poll at No. 25, putting four conference teams in the rankings for the first time this season.
Oregon was picked in the Pac-12 preseason poll to finish fourth in the conference. The finish at the end of the season will determine seeding for the Pac-12 tournament, set to kick off on March 9 in Las Vegas.
The last time the Ducks broke into the top 10 was the 2006-7 season, when they were ranked as high as No. 7 and went on to win the Pac-12 Tournament and advance to the round of 16 at the NCAA Tournament. That team, anchored by senior guard Aaron Brooks, was coached by Ernie Kent.