EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon looked to continue its five-game winning streak on Saturday against the North Dakota Bison. The Ducks had competed their hearts out on Friday with a dominating win against Pacific, which meant that the bench needed to contribute on Saturday to help alleviate the stress and fatigue of the starters.
That’s exactly what happened, as Dana Altman decided to make substitutions after just the first three minutes of the half. With Altman making substitutions left and right, the Ducks were able to stay fresh and apply constant pressure on North Dakota, allowing them to score only five points in the first six and a half minutes of the half.
With Oregon applying a zone press, North Dakota struggled with getting the ball down the court early, which led to an early lead for the Ducks. The Ducks, who have struggled with rebounding all year, were able to take advantage of their smaller and slower opponents, outrebounding them in the first half, 24-15. Oregon’s Joseph Young was able to attack the man-to-man defense, and explode for 17 points in just the first half. The Ducks also got a lot of fast break points off of their defensive rebounds, which allowed them to open a large lead going into the half.
The Ducks shot a credible 56% from the field to North Dakota’s 35%, and dominated the Green and White with 32 points in the paint, compared to North Dakota’s 20. Oregon was up 49-32 at the half, and continued the first-half game plan in the second period, applying a 2-3 zone and continuing the full-court press. Oregon’s bench chipped in, with three Ducks scoring in double figures.
North Dakota caught onto Oregon’s game plan and attacked Oregon’s press by running it down the middle, as opposed to their first-half tactics of moving the ball down the sidelines, which is a much more difficult approach to breaking a press. Led by Troy Huff’s 25 points, North Dakota continued hanging in the game, always maintaining just enough contact on the scoreboard that led to the Ducks effort to stay alert. The Ducks ended up taking this one 91-76, in a blowout.
Oregon definitely worked on their weaknesses in this one, outrebounding this team, 43-26. Altman utilized a two power forward lineup after realizing Waverly Austin may not have been the right player for the beginning of the game. Moser and Armadi used their athleticism and length to abuse North Dakota’s posts on the boards and light up the scoreboard.
Although the Ducks have been fairly good holding onto the ball this year, they committed 20 turnovers tonight, which is the big reason North Dakota was able to stick around in this one. The Ducks seem to always have one category they aren’t as good in, which allows the opponent to hang long enough to make it a game. Once the Ducks can push themselves to staying disciplined on the boards and taking care of the ball, this team will be ready to compete with the big boys. As of now, each game is just a stepping stone toward becoming a dominant squad in the Pac-12.
Oregon will take on Cal Poly on Sunday at 7 pm, striving to improve one step at a time.