Ducks Show Balance In Opening Win


EUGENE, Ore. —Will Richardson had 20 points to lead four scorers in double figures as the Oregon men’s basketball team opened its season Tuesday with an 83-66 victory over Texas Southern at Matthew Knight Arena.

Six players made their UO debuts in the game, including three starters. The Ducks got off to a slow start offensively but led 36-26 at halftime thanks to stout defense, before the game opened up in the second half.

“We weren’t hitting shots (early), but our energy was good,” UO coach Dana Altman said. “… I thought we made pretty good plays for each other; only had eight turnovers. Did a good job from the free-throw line. So some really good positives there — other than letting them shoot 51 percent and score 40 points in that second half.”

How It Happened: Jacob Young, the younger brother of Oregon’s former Pac-12 player of the year Joseph Young, hit a three-pointer on the first possession of the season for the Ducks. He added another moments later to cap a 13-4 run to open the game by Oregon.

Jacob Young

From there the Ducks went cold, making just two of their next 23 field-goal attempts. The game was played with 7,037 in attendance, and Eric Williams Jr. said playing in front of a crowd for the first time since spring 2020 might have played a factor in the shooting slump.

“It’s been a minute since I’ve seen fans,” Williams said. “I think I just had first-game jitters, honestly. I think we’ll be fine moving forward.

“(But) it feels good. Going into games last year felt more like a scrimmage. Now it feels like you’re playing for something.”

Oregon shot just 32.4 percent in the first half, but made six three-pointers and held Texas Southern to 39.1 percent shooting to lead 36-26. In the second half the Ducks shot 48.4 percent and made another six three-pointers, enough offense to survive the increased output by the visitors.

De’Vion Harmon and Quincy Guerrier, two of the new faces in the starting line, made back-to-back threes early in the second half for a 44-28 lead. A three-pointer by Williams and a dunk by Franck Kepnang pushed the UO lead to 54-35, and Rivaldo Soares completed a three-point play for the Ducks’ biggest lead of the night, 63-40.

The Oregon Ducks take on the TSU Tigers at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon on November 9th, 2021(Eric Evans Photography)

Who Stood Out: Richardson had 20 points with four three-pointers, Harmon added 15 points and Young scored 14. Guerrier finished with eight points and 12 rebounds, and Soares had 10 points with five rebounds.

What It Means: The Ducks and Tigers met for the fourth time in five years, and Tuesday’s win was Oregon’s most comfortable of the series. Oregon won 74-68 in 2017 and 84-78 in 2019, while Texas Southern won the 2018 matchup, 89-84.

“We’re going to be a work in progress through December,” Altman said. “But I like the depth of this team. I like the guys — I think if they become a cohesive unit defensively and offensively, that we can have a good team.”

Up Next: The Ducks host Southern Methodist in Matthew Knight Arena on Friday (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network).


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