For a team in disarray on offense and playing matador defense during the last 5 games — all losses — Jason Calliste, the 6-2 senior guard from the Detroit area, said “Enough!” by dumping 20 on the Cougs, on 8-10 shooting (4-of-6 from behind the arc), to lead a 71-44 Duck victory. Had the Ducks lost to last place Wazzu, the season would have been on the brink of disaster after such a promising start. With UCLA up next, this was no time to extend their losing streak to six.
Calliste’s hot hand to start the game — a perfect 4-4 in the first half — took much of the pressure off Oregon’s other scorers, but it was the defense, which resurrected itself through a tenacious matchup zone (ultimately morphing into a box-and-one, with the Cougs’ Que Johnson being the ‘one’) that paved the way for the win.
A befuddled Wazzu team, which came into the contest at 8-11 and 1-6 in conference play, played right into the hands of the Duck D by gifting 14 turnovers (for the game) on their way to just 17 first-half points. On the flip side, it was Oregon’s sloppy play that led to only 30 first-half points (down about 12 for a half) of their own.
Oregon benefitted by having Cougar scoring sparkplug, 6’4 SG DaVonte’ Lacy, injured and on the bench, which prompted the Cougs to eschew a higher-paced offense to go into a deliberate half-court set, killing the clock and exacerbating the lack of offense by the Ducks. The problem with that strategy is when you shoot 21% for a half (3-11 from 3), it doesn’t allow time for you to claw your way back into the game.
With only 44 points scored for the game, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Wazzu had no players in double-figures — they were led by Johnson with nine and Ike Iroegbu with seven, while three others contributed six points each. One of those contributors was Senior D. J. Shelton, the 6’10 nephew of former Oregon State standout, Lonnie Shelton.
Another Coug with an Oregon connection is Jordan Railly, the 7’0 center from Beaverton. Railly comes to Wazzu after transferring from Iowa State after his sophomore season. He was rated the No. 3 center the west coast after his senior year at Beaverton High, leading the 6A boys in blocked shots with a record 4.6 per game, while scoring 14 points per game and snatching close to 8 rebounds per contest.
In this one, the Ducks looked like they came out with a good energy level and established their zone, allowing little penetration into the paint. They were content to let the Cougars move the ball around the perimeter for 30 seconds before Wazzu would heave up something from beyond the arc. And, with the Cougars casting bricks, the outcome of this one was a foregone conclusion.
Beginning in the first half and continuing for another 2-1/2 minutes into the second, the defense keyed a run of 17-3 to put a damper on any comeback hopes the Cougs were fostering. Oregon saw its 13-point half time advantage continue to expand during the last 20 minutes. The margin reached 20 at the 11:30 mark, becoming a 25-point lead less than three minutes later. The largest-lead figure of 35 came at the 2:15 mark.
Offensively, it was “thank goodness for Jason,” as the next high scorer for the Ducks was SG Joseph Young, who was held to nearly half his season’s average of 18 a game with a mere ten, on 3-9 shooting, including 2-7 from 3-point territory and 2-2 from the line. Mike Moser was Oregon’s third-leading scorer with nine points – one shy of his season average – and cleared nine rebounds, as well, just missing a double-double.
The Duck who seemed to have hardest time tonight was Johnathan Loyd. The usually reliable waterbug of a point guard skittered out of control a couple of times, resulting in three turnovers. Not that it was ALL bad for Loyd — he did contribute five assists, a steal and four rebounds — but it just seems more noticeable when the pace at which he plays approaches warp speed.
As a team, Oregon shot 45.6% overall, with a 40.9% clip from 3 and was 10-of-11 (91%) from the line, but the Ducks pounded the glass for a 38-21 advantage. They also produced a mundane 15-13 assist-to-turnover ratio — which was gold compared to the 8-14 ratio suffered by Washington State.
Of note: Kudos for Arik Armstead, who is now officially a two-sport athlete for the Ducks. The 6’8, 280-lb. defensive lineman saw some mop-up duty during the last four minutes of the rout, scoring two points in the process. Welcome to the hard court, big fella.
(Top picture from Video)