With a home game scheduled Saturday against Houston Baptist, the hangover from the disappointing defeat wouldn’t last long. Oregon jumped on the young Huskies early and cruised to its 10th win of the season, 91-50.
There would be no drama like in the UTEP game, as the 10-2 Ducks raced out to an early lead behind excellent ball movement and defensive intensity, resulting in a 17-4 lead by the 14:40 mark. Senior transfer Arsalan Kazemi dished out four assists in that time span.
Altman said, “We shot better from the three-point line because we took better threes. I’ve been very disappointed early in the season with our three-point shooting. Last game, we took open threes, but too quick.” He added, “Today the ball movement was good, especially early.”
E.J. Singler, who had been held to two points in the UTEP game, came out on fire. The most experienced Duck knocked down his first five shots, three of them triples.
Singler said, “I had a rough game against UTEP. I wanted to come back and redeem myself.” He finished with 13 points and three assists in under 20 minutes of play.
The Oregon lead ballooned to 28 points with 6:12 left in the first period when freshman Damyean Dotson found Singler open for a three-pointer and a 40-12 Duck margin.
Singler said, “Damyean has been great for us. Really unbelievable. It’s great that he has the confidence he does. He’s been key for us in the preseason. Hopefully he will keep it going in the Pac-12.”
The Ducks’ leading scorer at 11.8 points per game, Dotson continued his solid overall play as he scored ten points on five of six from the field, hauled in eight rebounds and had two assists. He was the only Oregon player to play more than 20 minutes in the game.
Altman said, “He’s a talent. He’s going to be a real good player.”
By intermission, the game had become a yawner, most players had played, and the Ducks led 51-30. When Oregon held the visitors scoreless for more than six minutes of the second half, the only question left was whether the Ducks could hold their concentration and not start thinking of their four-day Christmas break too early.
Tony Woods, who led the Ducks in scoring with 14, said, “It’s easy to lose focus with a big lead,” but went on to say, “We still have a long way to go. Today was a step, but we have a long way to go.”
Houston Baptist, 4-7, was not as big as Oregon and it showed, getting outrebounded 52-39, but they scrapped long after the final outcome had been determined. As a result of grabbing 18 offensive rebounds, the Huskies had nearly as many second-chance points as Oregon (18-17).
But their shooting, poor in the first half (32.4%), was miserable in the second. The Huskies managed only 20% in the final period to leave them at 26.1% for the game. Brazilian Art Bernardi led the Huskies in scoring with 14 and Tyler Russell added 12.
Altman noted that Johnathan Loyd came in and did an excellent job of getting after it defensively. The coach said, “Our defensive communication needs to get better, and at times it was today. Johnathan really helped with that.”
Two key stats: the Ducks converted 20 points off 17 HBU turnovers, and Oregon’s bench outscored the Huskies 46-18.
The game turned sloppy after the early good Duck ball movement.
When Oregon swings the ball from side to side, good things generally happen. More players become involved, and Oregon normally gets a reasonably open shot. When players go one-on-one and shoot too quickly, things often break down for this team.
Altman said, “On offense, we’re all aggressive. We need to get that same aggressiveness on defense and the boards.”
Transfer Waverly Austin showed aggressiveness on the boards, grabbing nine to lead the Ducks. He also scored eight points, and showed some good footwork on a number of moves to the basket. His attacking style got him to the free throw line, though he only converted four of eight attempts.
In assessing Oregon’s progress at this point in the season with Pac-12 play looming, Altman said, “We were struggling this time a year ago and we really made a big jump over Christmas break. I hope it happens again.”
Altman said, “It’s a big learning curve for this team. We step forward, and then take a step back. We take two steps forward, and then one back.”
He continued, “It’s been kind of hectic for all of us. We all need a break.”
The coaching staff will return the day after Christmas to prepare for Nevada, Oregon’s next opponent. The team returns a day later.
Altman said, “We need a sense of urgency when we return. We need to sharpen up in a lot of areas.”
Nevada comes to Matthew Knight Arena on New Year’s Eve for a 4:00 pm contest. It’s the final game before conference play begins at Oregon State on January 6th.