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After a poor second half of shooting against USC on Thursday, the Oregon Ducks
With the conference season reaching the halfway mark, Oregon finally put together a full 40 minutes of solid basketball and the result was an 82-64 thumping of UCLA in front of 7,301 inside Matthew Knight Arena Saturday afternoon.
The win gave the Ducks a 4-3 conference mark and 14-6 overall. It also completed a weekend sweep over Los Angeles schools, a sweep Oregon needed after going win-less in Washington. UCLA’s troubles continue, dropping to 3-4 in Pac-12 play and just 11-9 overall.
In Oregon’s last contest, the first four minutes was nearly perfect basketball, but against UCLA, it was the entire game. The Bruins never had a chance as the Ducks were hitting shot after shot after shot.
At one point in the first half, the Ducks were shooting 80 percent from the field and we are not talking 4-of-5. Oregon sank 16 of its first 20 shots, including its first six from three-point land to take a commanding 42-21 lead at the 3:59 mark in the first half.
“Well I think all the made baskets provide a lot of energy. I thought our ball movement was really good and we’ve been taking some quick shots,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “We really talked the past couple of days about if we didn’t like what we got in transition, make them guard a little bit more. I liked some of our possessions. They went longer and I thought we got better shots because of it.”
What was even more impressive for the Ducks was that it wasn’t just one guy that was hot. Seemingly everyone that was wearing an Oregon uniform couldn’t miss.
The final box score says Joseph Young led Oregon with 16 points, but he was just one of five Ducks in double figures. Dwayne Benjamin came off the bench to score 15. The junior college transfer was perfect from the field going 6-of-6 and sinking a trio of threes.
Elgin Cook scored 11, while Ahmaad Rorie and Jalil Abdul-Bassit added 10. Dillon Brooks came off the bench to score eight and Jordan Bell filled the stat sheet with six points, seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks.
After shooting 80 percent for much of the first half, the only way to go was down. But even then, Oregon was at the 70 percent mark for much of the game. The Ducks wound up shooting 62 percent, going 33-of-63 from the field and 9-of-13 from long range.
Normal Powell and Bryce Alford kept UCLA in the game with their shooting prowess or the Bruins would have been run out of the gym. Powell led the way with 23, Alford 15 with Kevin Looney also scoring 15 before fouling out.
Benjamin’s first three-pointer at the 10:03 mark gave Oregon a 23-12 lead. The Ducks’ lead never went under 10 from that point on.
Oregon held a 20-point lead on two different occasions. The Bruins did pull to within 13 early in the second half, but the Ducks answered every single time UCLA made a run.
Coach Steve Alford’s halftime adjustment on the offensive end was to drive to the hoop on nearly every single possession and for the first seven minutes of the second half, it worked.
Oregon countered by going to a zone and that slowed the Bruins’ offense.
“Well we talked about not letting them get easy baskets, then they shot three layups at the start of the second half,” Altman said. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t let them get back in the game and giving up those baskets would be the quickest way to let them back into the game.
“We just did a little better job of hedging some of the ball screens. I thought Jordan got a little more active. Elgin did a nice job of hedging some of those ball screens. So, I think we just picked it up and did a little better job.”
UCLA tried several things on defense, but nothing worked. The Bruins didn’t slow Oregon down at all. Benjamin’s rebound-reverse dunk gave the Ducks a 76-55 lead with 6:45 left. The Ducks knew they had the game and pumped the brakes on the offensive end from that point on.
The Ducks now face two tough road tests in Arizona with the Wildcats on the docket Wednesday night and Arizona State Friday. Oregon lost to Arizona 80-62 Jan. 8, but rebounded to defeat ASU 59-56 two days later.
~ Don Smalley
The Ducks‘ 75-67 victory over USC at Matt Knight Arena was a special night for two of Oregon’s most charismatic and effective players. Senior Joseph Young scored 19 points, becoming the 33rd Duck in Oregon basketball history to reach 1,000 career points. Jordan Bell, Oregon’s...
After coming off a strong victory over the USC Trojans on Thursday, the Ducks will face off against UCLA on Saturday, January 24th. This Pac-12 conference battle will feature Oregon’s strong offense as shown by their averaging roughly 76.6 points…
USC had a golden opportunity to steal one on the road, but the Ducks made just enough plays in the end to escape with a 75-67 win Thursday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
Oregon made a huge effort in practice on making the defense better and on this night at least, the defense was there more times than it was not.
The Ducks held USC to 37 percent shooting on 25-of-67 from the floor and just 6-of-19 from three-point land.
It was a difficult second half for the Ducks that saw a 13-point halftime lead eventually erased with 5:40 remaining when Julian Jacobs’ three-point play tied the game at 61-61.
Oregon clamped down on the defense at the point and held USC to just six points down the stretch.
Meanwhile, the Ducks were killing the Trojans from the free throw line, going 12-of-14 in the last five minutes to seal the deal.
Joseph Young led the Ducks with 19 points and went over the 1,000-point mark for his career in doing so. Elgin Cook added 15 and Dillon Brooks managed 12. Jalil Abdul-Bassit came off the bench to score 11.
Jordan Bell, who left the game with three minutes to go due to an inadvertent to the face, pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked three more shots to add to his season-breaking total of 66.
Katin Reinhardt led the Trojans off the bench with 16 points. Jacobs also scored 16 and Jordan McLaughlin added 14.
Oregon needed this win to go to 3-3 in conference and 13-6 overall. The Ducks suffered two losses in Washington, two losses that could have easily been wins. USC fell to 1-4 in conference play and 9-11 overall.
The first half featured a little of everything for Oregon; some good, some bad, and plenty ugly. But when all was said and done, the Ducks went into the locker room with a 44-31 lead.
Oregon started on fire from both ends of the floor, going on a 16-2 run to begin the contest. Defensive communication was a point of emphasis and in the initial five minutes, it was there. But then there were lapses and the Trojans turned a 14-point deficit into a five-point deficit at 19-14.
Abdul-Bassit came off the bench and restored some order by hitting a couple from long range. The Ducks briefly held a 10-point lead. USC remained within shouting distance for most of the half, but Casey Benson nailed a three for the 36-25 lead.
USC was held to without a field goal in the last five minutes of the half after Julian Jacobs’ three brought the Trojans to just a six-point deficit at 36-30. Oregon turned on the defense once again in order to grab the double-digit halftime lead.
Oregon was far from shy from shooting the three-point shot in the first 20 minutes, going 7-of-18 from long range and 15-of-33 from the field. On the other side, the Trojans were having a hard time finding the range, long or short. USC shot 33 percent from the field (11-of-33) and 3-of-9 from the three-point line.
The Ducks will now host a struggling UCLA team that just went down in defeat in Corvallis 66-55. The Bruins are just 11-8 overall and 3-3 in conference action. The game is scheduled for a 1 pm tip on CBS.
~ Don Smalley
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