We are fortunate to have new FishDuck.com Basketball Writer Coach Nord, and long-time photographer and pro Kevin Cline attend the PK Invitational in Portland as credentialed Media for the site …
In an early season test for the Oregon Men’s Basketball team, a back-and-forth battle broke out between the Ducks and the Memphis Tigers. It wasn’t a pretty game, but the Ducks showed a gutsy effort to come away with a win against one of the most talented teams in the nation.
In a game where Oregon turned the ball over 18 times, and shot 55% (15-27) from the free throw line, the Ducks were able to come away with an 82-74 win. The biggest difference in the game was from the three-point line as the Ducks shot 39% (9-23), led once again by Anthony Mathis who stayed hot and made 4-of-5 threes. The Tigers had their troubles from long-range as they shot a miserable 17% (4-23) from three-point range.
Another major factor in the game was the early foul trouble for freshman sensation and potential number-one draft pick for Memphis, James Wiseman. He picked up his second foul with 15:15 left to go in the first, and sat the remainder of the half. This helped the Ducks hold a 41-35 halftime lead. Even with only playing five minutes in the first half, Wiseman was still able to finish with 14 points and 12 rebounds. While those are still good numbers, Oregon was largely able to hold him in check.
The undersized Ducks had multiple bodies on Wiseman all game, and he really wasn’t a factor until late when the game was mostly out of reach. Give credit to Francis Okoro (who has had injury troubles to start the season) for battling with Wiseman throughout the game and finishing with seven points and nine rebounds.
The Ducks were led by senior Shakur Juiston, notching his first double-double (17 points and 10 rebounds) in an Oregon uniform. After missing last year with an injury while at UNLV, Juiston is proving to have shaken the rust off quickly and should continue to be a force in the paint.
The Ducks had trouble with Memphis’ pressure throughout the game, causing 11 first half turnovers leading to 20 points. Oregon handled the pressure slightly better in the second half, only turning the ball over seven times.
Payton Pritchard struggled with the quickness and length of the Memphis defenders, having six turnovers on his own. Like Oregon did with Wiseman, the Tigers threw multiple players at Pritchard causing him to have trouble. However, like you would expect from a senior point guard, Pritchard made two threes in the final three minutes, and 4-of-6 free throws in the last minute to help seal the win.
One story from the night to monitor is the potential injury to starting guard Chris Duarte. He left the game with an apparent knee injury in the first half, and he briefly returned in the second half before sitting out the remainder of the game. After the game Dana Altman said they believed it to be just a bruise and that Duarte should be fine. In Duarte’s absence, the Ducks had multiple players step up. Will Richardson, Chandler Lawson and Addison Patterson all had solid games contributing to the win.
I was mostly impressed with Richardson. He played with poise and confidence down the stretch, helping Pritchard bring the ball up the court and also making a big three late to extend the Ducks lead. Richardson finished with 10 points and six assists while only committing two turnovers
Quite frankly, this is a game in previous years that the Ducks would have lost. A gritty, tough game against a talented opponent early in the season. The fact that this team is able to win these types of games at this point in year is a great sign for the rest of this season.
Through three games, this team has shown its potential, and they are still just scratching the surface. This group will continue to grow and improve, as all Altman teams do, and if everything comes together, don’t be too surprised to see this team playing for a chance to get back in the Final Four.
Coach Alex Nordstrand
Eugene, Oregon Top Photo by Kevin Cline
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