Ducks Show Balance In Opening Win

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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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