Oregon Basketball - Page 17

Ducks Scare Away the Tigers


Photos by Craig Strobeck

Eugene, OR.-  The undefeated Pacific Tigers matched up on Friday against the Ducks. This contest was Oregon’s first of three battles in the Global Sports Hardwood Challenge.  Hosted in Eugene, the Challenge should test the Ducks’ mental toughness and bench depth, as it will surely be a long weekend for the No. 14 team in the country.

The Ducks came into Friday’s game with their heads high after a dominating win against USF last Sunday. The biggest priority for Oregon is establishing good team chemistry, as the Ducks are composed primarily 0f transfers still becoming accustomed to one another’s styles of play.  Although it can be frustrating establishing that chemistry, it is encouraging to note that the only thing that can beat Oregon at this point is, well . . . Oregon!  They have the talent and coaching, and now Dana Altman’s goal is putting it all together.

Coach Altman thinking up motivational halftime speech to motivate turkey-filled Ducks

In Oregon’s first game of the Hardwood Challenge against the Pacific Tigers, the Ducks came out the same way they did in the first half of the USF game. They were caught out of position on defense, were dominated on the glass (25-15 in the first half), and shot a poor 54% from the line and 25% from three-point range.  The Tigers put up nine offensive rebounds and shot 42% from three.  It was clear the Ducks had a little too much stuffing on Thanksgiving, because they simply looked slow, sloppy and lethargic.  Both teams turned the ball over, but Oregon’s early turnovers led to transition points by the Tigers, killing Oregon’s momentum.  The result — the Ducks were down 36-29 at the half.

On defense, the Tigers played a 3-2 zone to Oregon’s early man-to-man, which quickly turned into a zone, to match the Tigers style of play.  Although the Ducks did move the ball around well, they couldn’t convert on their opportunities.  Meanwhile, the Tigers popped threes all in the Ducks’ faces on lazy close-outs.  Coach Altman understood in order to start scoring against the Tigers’ zone, they needed to attack Pacific’s zone gaps by dribble penetration, finding players open either under the basket or kicking the ball back out to perimeter shooters.  Dana Altman turned to a three-guard lineup (Loyd, Calliste, and Young), hoping they would be able to create opportunities for one another.

Young leads comeback in 2nd half

For such a talented offensive team, 29 points in a half is unacceptable to Coach Altman.  With Mike Moser being the only scorer in double digits at the half, the intensity had to pick up quickly.  The Ducks did just that, and within the first few minutes of the second half, they hounded the Tigers and made them their prey.  The Ducks moved much better on defense, switching back into their man-to-man to stop the three-point feeding frenzy that the Tigers had become accustomed to in the first half.  Oregon began to steal, block, and close-out much better in the second half, which led to fast break points.  Joseph Young began the come back with a three pointer and two incredible acrobatic lay-ups, assisting the Ducks in an early 16-0 run and pushing the lead to 45-36.  Pacific went cold for the remainder of the game, shooting just 36% overall to the Ducks 56%.

Calliste running the show as the leading scorer off the bench

Jonathan Loyd led the attack with 13 assists on the game.  His quarterback- like vision on the court created opportunities for teammates, as four Ducks ended up scoring in double digits, led by Moser’s 19 points.  Dotson quetly had a nice game with 13 points on 5-5 shooting, and Calliste came off the bench to contribute another 15.  Oregon will need to continue to get solid contributions from their bench this weekend, simply because the starters cannot carry the load every game.  By the middle of the second half, it was pretty obvious the Ducks had this one put away, as they went into cruise control and finished the game with a score of 85-62.

As this season continues, Oregon will have to address their issues on the boards.  It will not be possible for this team to continue dominating opponents without stronger rebounding.  Their increased attention to detail on the defensive glass will be key, since teams will only continue to get bigger and stronger as the season goes forward.

Oregon will continue to improve on their incredible potential in Saturday’s matchup at 3:30 pm against North Dakota.

Ducks Dominate Dons

Steve Francis

EUGENE, OR.- The San Francisco Dons came into Matthew Knight Arena averaging 92 points per game on the season.  With such an explosive offense, Coach Altman understood that this matchup would challenge his players’ character and defensive discipline.  Oregon leads the Dons all-time with an overall record of 7-2, with USF’s last win against the Ducks in 1953.

The Don’s came into Sunday night’s game with their best game face they could possibly display to try to rattle the Ducks, but the mighty Ducks played their hearts out to come out victorious in a 100-82 blowout.

Oregon struggled in the first half, as their starting point guard Jonathan Lloyd tipped off the game with a quick two fouls that sent him to the bench, bringing in Jason Calliste to run the offense.  The Don’s came out strong; with their first two points coming off a back screen ally-oop dunk that definitely shook MTA and sent a message to the Ducks. Oregon quickly realized this one wasn’t going to be easy.

Mike Moser Putting The Team On His Back In The First Half

Mike Moser Putting The Team On His Back In The First Half

Oregon struggled to move the ball around in the first half with Lloyd out, but Forward Mike Moser and shooting sensation Joseph Young were still able to carry the Ducks thanks to their incredible one-on-one offensive capabilities.  Moser faced up on USF and shot 4-7 for 9 points, while Young did what he does best in dropping threes (2-3), and getting to the line. Damyean Dotson, who had been struggling this season finding his role on the team, finished the half with 7 points on 3-5 shooting.

Oregon shot 60% from three, and 52% overall in the first half, while the Don’s shot a poor 32% overall. The score at the half was 40-35 Oregon… Wait, what?  With the shooting numbers Oregon erupted for compared to USF’s they should have been up by at least twenty!  So what happened?  Oregon shot 4-11 at the line, compared to USF’s 8-10, and USF was also able to wrack up 9 offensive rebounds compared to Oregon’s 2.  When you give up offensive rebounds, it doesn’t matter if your team is shooting 100% to your opponents 30%, because second chance points will end up winning you the game.

The Ducks were looking to run in the beginning of the first half, and so were the Don’s.  However, neither team found success in the style of play, so they both slowed down to setting up their half court sets.  Oregon ran a man to man defense the entire game, while the Don’s started off with a 2-3 zone that after a quick three 3 pointers by the Ducks quickly turned into a man to man defense as well.

The Ducks Took It Strong To The Basket The Entire Night, Led By Elgin Cook

The Ducks Took It Strong To The Basket The Entire Night, Led By Elgin Cook

With Austin Waverly contributing minimally, coach Atlman gave forward Elgin Cook solid playing time off the bench that led to an outstanding performance, as he finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds on 5-8 shooting on the game.  After discussing their halftime weaknesses, the Ducks came out stronger than ever to compete with the Dons.   The Ducks continued to battle on the boards, as they ended up outrebounding USF 39-38 after being down 23-19 at halftime.

There’s no other way to say it other than, things simply started to click. Jason Calliste ran the offense for the majority of the game, and finished with 16 points, while Damyean Dotson finished with 17 and 6 boards.  Young had his lowest scoring game of the year with 12 points, but with the others playing well and carrying the load of the scoring, Young did what he had to do only when the team really needed it in the first half. Once everyone else got theirs, his night just became a walk in the park.

The Dons kept hanging around in the second half with a 14-point deficit for the majority of it.  You kept thinking the Don’s would come back at some point, but every time the Dons scored, Oregon would come back and score double what they did.  The Ducks ended up cruising to an 18 point lead by the end of it all, as the Duck’s athleticism and pure talent was just too much for USF to handle.

After the game, Damyean Dotson admitted in his postgame interview to putting too much pressure on himself to carry the load of the points as he said, “I just let the game come to me, the first couple of games I was forcing, worried about scoring, but tonight I just focused on defense and rebounding.”

Dotson Taking Things Into His Own Hands, Finding His Place On The Team

Dotson Taking Things Into His Own Hands, Finding His Place On The Team

When asked about the team in general, Coach Altman said, “ offensively we’re doing fine, my concern is defensively. We gave them 9 second chances… We’re not playing as a unit.  That’s my job to make that happen, and I’m not doing a very good job of doing that.”  The team is struggling to work cohesively on the court as well as they would want them to, specifically defensively.  As Altman said, “We’re not getting to our spots”, and that’s simply the truth.  The fact that USF was able to stay in the game shooting 32% while the Ducks were shooting incredibly well means that they’re playing well on one side of the ball, but not the other.

December is going to be a huge month for the Ducks, as they’re finally going to be able to focus solely on basketball once finals are over.  That’s the time the Ducks will be able to really improve their team chemistry, so they can play up to their potential like we’ve all been expecting.


Oregon men’s basketball jump to No. 18 in AP Top 25

The Oregon men’s basketball team was rewarded for its win last week, moving forward one spot in the first regular season AP top 25 poll to No. 18.

Oregon was joined in the top 25 by two fellow Pac-12 members: No. 6 Arizona and No. 24 UCLA.

The Ducks beat Georgetown last Friday 82-75 when they faced off in honor of the American troops at Camp Humphreys, South Korea. The win was even more impressive given the recent controversies that have beset the team — guard Dominic Artis and forward Ben Carter were both suspended for the nine games of the season.

Kentucky and Michigan State both remained in the top two spots. Kentucky received 28 first-place votes while Michigan State had 22. Louisville, the reigning defending national champions, stayed in third.

The top 10 is as follows (first-place votes in parentheses):

1. Kentucky (28) 2-0 1,552

2. Michigan St. (22) 1-0 1,549

3. Louisville (12) 2-0 1,494

4. Duke (3) 1-0 1,454

5. Kansas 1-0 1,358

6. Arizona 1-0 1,291

7. Michigan 1-0 1,154

8. Oklahoma St. 1-0 1,124

9. Syracuse 1-0 1,087

10. Ohio St. 1-0 1,033

Click here for a complete list of the top 25.

Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur

Oregon women’s basketball uses strong defensive effort to beat Oregon Tech in final exhibition game

The Oregon women’s basketball team used a barrage of three-point field goals and an impressive defensive performance to defeat Oregon Tech 116-51 in the final exhibition game of the season before regular season play begins against CSU Bakersfield on Saturday.

The Ducks shot 43 percent from beyond the arc (16 of 37 shooting). This would have broken the Oregon single-game record of 15 had it happened in a regular season game. The Ducks also pressed hard against the visiting Hustlin’ Owls, forcing 32 turnovers that led to 35 points off those turnovers. The Ducks also shot 47 percent from the field and 64 percent from the free-throw line.

“It was another exhibition,” head coach Paul Westhead said. “We tried to get some of the kinks out and some understanding on how we want to do some things. We had reasonable success, but we have a good bit of work to do.”

Freshman Chrishae Rowe (35 points, 15 rebounds) and sophomore Jillian Alleyne (15, 11) both recorded double-doubles for the Ducks. Alleyne also led the squad with three blocks.

Rowe and fellow freshman Drea Toler continued to impress Westhead in exhibition play.

“She (Rowe) has a good sense for the game,” Westhead said. ”Big difference. The little kid is speedy. She keeps amazing me. She is going to eventually be a crowd-pleaser, I can see it coming.”

Rowe said that the team should continue to find ways to grow, but she’s happy with the progress thus far.

“I personally think we want to run more and cut down on the turnovers and try to knock down shots more consistently,” Rowe said. “But we are headed in the right direction and I’m feeling good about the season.”

Westhead also praised senior Ariel Thomas’ (6 points, 6 rebounds) performance in the game.

“Stats are deceptive when you look at Ariel Thomas,” Westhead said. “She played her heart out. She’s a tough kid. We need a whole bunch of Ariel Thomas’s. Hopefully it becomes contagious. Right now, Ariel Thomas, ounce-for-ounce, or minute-for-minute might be my best player.”

Westhead said Thomas might be the team’s best offensive rebounder, as well.

“She’s fearless and she goes for it,” Westhead said. “You have to be aggressive to be a rebounder. She sacrifices her body every possession.”

Westhead’s squad was not afraid to push the tempo, either, and it showed in their fast-break advantage. They outscored the Hustlin’ Owls 53-8 in fast break points.

Even though the Ducks secured 68 total rebounds, Westhead was not satisfied with the rebounding production.

“I wasn’t really happy with our overall rebounding effort,” Westhead said. “We could’ve done a better job on defensive boards.”

Katelyn Loper paced the Ducks with eight three-pointers, and she said that she has to continue to be persistent and confident as a shooter in the Pac-12.

“A lot of it comes from my teammates,” Loper said. “As a shooter, you have to keep your confidence even when they’re not falling. Without them (the team), I wouldn’t make the shots that I do.”

Westhead is excited for the return of sophomore Lexi Petersen after she missed all but one game last season due to an ACL injury.

“She’s the real deal, folks,” Westhead said. “She would’ve been our best player next year, head and shoulders. She will be welcome to come back.”

On the horizon: The Ducks open regular season play this Saturday, Nov. 9 against CSU Bakersfield at 7 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena.

Follow Jonathan Hawthorne on Twitter @Jon_Hawthorne

Ducks at Tipping Point of Top of the Mountain and Middle of the Pac


The No. 23 Oregon Ducks men’s basketball team (21-5, 10-3) sits alone at the top of the mountain. Their dominant performance in Pac-12 play has them in prime position as they prepare for the final stretch of the regular season. With five games remaining, and a one-game lead in first place, Oregon has never been in a position like this before. Even Oregon’s Elite 8 team of 2001-2002 (26-9, 14-4) had seven loses  and four conference loses by this point in the regular season.

Head coach Dana Altman and his top-25 Ducks are doing things never before seen in Oregon Ducks basketball history. They’ve been in the top-10 this season, and only an injury to starting point guard Dominic Artis derailed their perfect Pac-12 play.

But this team needs to continue to drive forward, and not drop off. Despite two road wins against the Washington schools last weekend, and multiple teams ahead of the Ducks in the polls losing, Oregon stayed ranked 23rd. They rank 38th in RPI and have essentially plateaued.

Pac-12 StandingsThe Ducks are in a delicate spot with no room for error. Even with Oregon’s first place spot in the conference, only two games separates first from fifth place, and three games from seventh. One bad weekend series could drop the Ducks into a tie with Cal and/or Arizona State for fifth place.

At this point, every game is pivotal. Seeding will become important in both the Ducks’ bid for an NCAA Tournament spot and their run in the Pac-12 Conference tournament.

With an RPI at 38, Oregon is relatively safe from “bubble” standing, but that can change quickly if the team doesn’t build from their three-game win streak. Joe Linardi, ESPN’s Bracketology expert, has the Ducks as a six seed. Oregon will obviously be looking to improve that current projection and earn a top-5 or top-4 seed in the tournament. That shouldn’t be an issue, though, considering what remains ahead of the Ducks’ on the schedule. Oregon plays Cal, Stanford and Oregon State at home before going on the road to play Colorado and Utah.

And the Ducks’ remaining schedule should just be labeled the “Vendetta Voyage.” Three of Oregon’s remaining five games are against each of the team’s conference loses, and teams that took advantage of an injury-plagued Ducks team. Whether Artis is healthy or not for the remainder of the regular season, the Ducks should be heavy favorites in each of their remaining games.

Besides looking stronger in conference for the selection committee, Oregon has a lot to play for within conference. The top four seeds get byes the first round of the tournament. That is a huge advantage! I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for the Ducks to finish in the top-4 of the Pac-12 conference.

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 9.53.15 AMA sweep this weekend will essentially guarantee a top-4 seed. Oregon could still lose a spot, however, if Cal, Colorado or USC were to run the table and Oregon were to lose three of its remaining five games. If Oregon wins at least four of their last five games and wins the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas, they could definitely see a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament like they had in 2002 and 2007.

Considering how crazy this entire college basketball season has been, is really anything out of the realm of possibility? But like I said, before the Ducks can start thinking about the NCAA tourney, they have to figure out a way to beat Cal and Stanford. That was apparently not so easy as the Cardinal absolutely dismantled the Ducks for 40 minutes a month ago.

If Oregon sweeps this weekend, Ducks fans can relax a little bit. Get that guaranteed No. 4 seed and things will play out nicely. Oregon controls their own destiny.

Ducks men’s basketball sweeps Huskies for the first time in 18 years

Seattle is not typically a kind place to the Ducks, but Oregon got the win in HecEd tonight finishing off the Huskies 65-52. It’s the first time Oregon has swept Washington in 18 years.

Entering the game, the Ducks knew they’d have to execute defensively to slow down Washington, and execute they did.  Oregon held Washington to just 37 percent shooting in the first half and an even worse 32 percent in the second half.  Oregon also took relatively good care of the ball, committing just nine turnovers all night.

The Ducks led almost wire-to-wire, with Washington leading briefly by one point.

But as bad as Washington was offensively, Oregon was unable to pull too far ahead in the first half and went into the intermission leading by just six points after an EJ Singler three-pointer at the buzzer was ruled no good.

The senior from Medford had 11 points, one of three players finishing with 11 in a  characteristically balanced scoring effort from the Ducks.  Singler produced a highlight reel moment for the fundamentals lover with midway through the first half.  Singler got a rebound, dribbled beyond the arch before sinking a three.  It was the only three Singler would make on six attempts, but Oregon did knock down four threes as a team on 13 attempts.

Oregon got a scare late when junior point guard Jonathan Loyd tweaked what looked to be an ankle or a knee. It’s unknown if Loyd will miss any time, but it was certainly a scary sight to Duck fans.

Loyd did have his best offensive night since joining the starting unit, scoring all 11 of his points in the second half.

Oregon was out-rebounded 36-30 with the Ducks rebounding machine, Kazemi, held to just seven boards–only one of which was offensive.

Ducks Come Alive in Second Half To Defeat Utah 73-64

Arsalan Kazemi's hustle helped propel the Ducks to a nine point victory
Arsalan Kazemi’s hustle helped propel the Ducks to a nine point victory

Behind a 19-2 run in the second half, Oregon ended its three game losing streak by defeating the Utah Utes 73-64. Oregon took its first lead midway through the second half 44-43 and didn’t relinquish the lead from then on.

The Ducks dominated the glass all game, out rebounding Utah 41-19. Oregon also held a 24-6 advantage in second chance points and had as many offensive rebounds as Utah had total rebounds. Oregon shot 48 percent in the second half, 18 percent higher than their total in the first period, behind the insertion of a small lineup for most of the half.

After being down 30-22 at halftime, Oregon scored 51 points in the second and ended the game with 15 straight free throws. Three Ducks finished in double figures scoring, led by E.J. Singler‘s game high 21 points. Head coach Dana Altman said the tipping point to give the Ducks momentum was Singler’s three point basket to cut Utah’s lead to one 32-31.

From there, senior forward Arsalan Kazemi gave the Ducks its first lead of the second half on a free throw. Coach Altman said Kazemi’s performance in the second half was as good of a half as he’s had all season.

“Second half he was unbelievable – blocking shots, rebounding, starting our break and making plays. He was the difference in the game.” Altman said.

Kazemi finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds, and said “little plays, hustle plays, that’s what gets the team going. And we had a lot of those plays tonight, especially in the second half.”

Freshman Damyean Dotson said while Kazemi is usually quiet, he was screaming at his teammates during halftime, imploring them to do better in the second half. That is a sight Dotson had never seen in his teammate before, and that it fired up the team.

Dotson was a driving force towards the Ducks’ second half play, scoring 13 points in the second half. Before the game, Dotson was shown a video of his play earlier in the season, and knew he had to step up, be more aggressive and take over the game.

“It wasn’t me just thinking I had to take over, it was me knowing I had to take over.” Dotson said. “I knew I had to step up in the second half because I haven’t been doing that lately.” On his mindset when taking over the game Dotson said he knew he just had to score. “I was just thinking catch and shoot I guess. Score, you gotta score. This is what you came here for.”

Dotson has struggled without his backcourt mate Dominic Artis, scoring under double digits in the four previous games Artis had missed. But Dotson thought this game was a break-though.

Oregon's E.J. Singler reaches for the block
Oregon’s E.J. Singler reaches for the block

“I feel like this was a break in game because it was the middle of the season. The beginning of the season I was doing good. All the staff was talking to me like we need you, you have to come out. They inspired me this game.”

Utah shot 41 percent in the second half, 16 percent lower than its total in the first half. In the first half the duo of Utah’s Jordan Loveridge and Jason Washburn outscored Oregon’s whole team 24-22. But Loveridge was shutout in the second half, scoring 0 points on 0-7 shooting. Head coach Dana Altman used a press in the second half and said it changed the rhythm of the game.

Altman tried to tell his team that they were 18-2 before earlier in the season for a reason, and that they had to play up to their ability. Freshman point guard Dominic Artis was injured on the bench for the fifth straight game. While Altman said he doesn’t have a status on Artis, he will visit a doctor on Monday.

Oregon improves to 19-5 on the season and 8-3 in conference play. Oregon is now tied in second place in the Pac-12 with UCLA, one game out of the Arizona’s Pac-12 lead, and will face Washington on the road February 13th.

Oregon Ranked No. 10 In Latest AP Poll For First Time Since 2007 Season


The Oregon men’s basketball team (18-2, 7-0) has risen all the way to No. 10 in the latest AP top 25 poll. Following wins against the Washington schools last week, the Ducks have started 7-0 in conference play for the first time in school history.

The Ducks’ success has been due to two key aspects: having five players scoring in double figures and playing tenacious defense, outscoring their opponents by more then 13 points a game. That margin of victory is first in the Pac-12 and the Ducks are also first in the Pac-12 in rebounding.

Oregon and Carlos Emory have been electric all season, leading to spot in the top 10. Credit Eric Evans
Oregon and Carlos Emory have been electric all season, leading to spot in the top 10. Credit Eric Evans

After being picked seventh in the preseason Pac-12 poll, Oregon is now atop of the conference with a two game lead. Oregon received 969 total votes in the latest AP poll, after receiving just 19 total votes in the AP poll three weeks ago.

The Ducks moving up in the rankings was aided by seven teams ranked ahead of them losing last week. The Ducks passed three of those teams, but are still ranked behind number eight Arizona and number nine Butler. The Ducks have legitimate reasons to pass both those teams, as Oregon beat Arizona earlier in the season and Butler lost last week to La Salle.

One reason why the Ducks may be still ranked below Arizona and Butler is its RPI and strength of schedule. Oregon is ranked 270th in strength of schedule and 20th in RPI, which was hurt by a road loss to UTEP over winter break. Counter that with Butler and Arizona ranked 10th and 4th in RPI, respectively, it’s apparent why Oregon is still behind them.

However, despite their soft strength of schedule this season, Oregon is one of only three teams in the college basketball to beat two ranked teams on the road.

Oregon’s backcourt has been lead this season by two freshmen, Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson, but Artis sustained a left foot injury last week in practice that will keep him out at least two weeks. Artis leads the Ducks in assists and his presence was certainly missed last Saturday, when the Ducks made a season high 23 turnovers against the Huskies.

Oregon has also been lead by their senior leader E.J. Singler, the Pac-12’s active leader in points scored. The Ducks travels to the Bay Area this week for games against Stanford and Cal Berkeley, Wednesday and Saturday.

Singler, Ducks Drop Huskies 81-76 in Front of Sold-Out Matthew Knight Arena

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“If you build it, they will come,” the saying goes.

Yet, in its third season, Oregon’s state-of-the-art Matt Knight Arena has seen inconsistent attendance, despite being home to a men’s basketball program that has risen from the Pac-10 cellar to the Pac-12 throne.

Saturday, 12,364 of the Oregon faithful came, and saw, selling out Matt Knight Arena for the first time since February 22, 2011. And the Ducks (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12) conquered, dispatching Washington (12-8, 4-3) 81-76.

(AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

E.J. Singler scored 18 points on 7-9 shooting, and Arsalan Kazemi gathered 11 points and 11 rebounds – the 50th double-double of his collegiate career.

Saturday’s game was by no means pretty, however. The Ducks committed 23 turnovers, whereas the Huskies committed 21. Despite sloppy ball handling on both sides, however, both teams shot well – Washington at 51.9%, Oregon at 57.8%.

“Gosh darn turnovers took away from the performance. Lots of bad decisions,” said head coach Dana Altman, mentioning Singler and point guard Johnathan Loyd as culprits, giving up the ball 7 and 5 times, respectively. Playing without starting point guard Dominic Artis, who is sidelined with a foot ailment, the Ducks’ offensive sets were often jumbled and lacking rhythm.

“Without D.A., I thought Johnny (Loyd) really stepped up and did a great job defensively,” said Altman of the junior, who, after being relegated to a backup role in his sophomore and junior seasons, will take over the starting job he once had as a freshman in Artis’s absence.

Freshman Willie Moore, who had only played five minutes total in Pac-12 play, logged 9 minutes off the bench at point guard, scoring 9 points but also gathering 4 fouls and committing 4 turnovers.

“Willie struggled at times and had a little trouble getting us into things,” said Altman, who, despite his complaints regarding the Ducks’ turnovers and lack of offensive fluidity, said he liked the overall effort of his players.

But there was no denying the massive impact of one of the arena’s biggest and rowdiest crowds in its short history. They exploded when Emory soared above the rim for a pair of monster slams in the first half. They went nuts when Kazemi battled for offensive rebounds and hard-earned layups.

And when Washington guard Andrew Andrews drew a five-second violation for failing to in-bound against a swarming Ducks defense, the impact of the crowd’s deafening screams could not be denied. The Ducks rode an especially raucous second half atmosphere to a 23-12 run spanning just less than 8 minutes.

“This has been the best crowd,” said Singler, who had expressed surprise after less than 7,000 attended Oregon’s 68-61 victory over Washington State on Wednesday. “The fans today were great, really got us going on our stretch in the second half.”

It was a special crowd for what’s feeling more and more like a special team. The victory extended Oregon’s winning streak to nine games, and with UCLA falling to Arizona State 78-60 Saturday, pinned the Ducks to a two-game lead over the rest of the Pac-12.

With no looming regular season matchups against fellow tournament contenders Arizona and UCLA, the always-charged rivalry game against Washington was one to circle on the schedule. Fresh off a pair of disappointing losses against Utah and Oregon State, the Huskies never backed down on Saturday.

(AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
(AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

Five Huskies players logged point totals in double figures: Andrews (15), C.J. Wilcox (14), Scott Suggs (13), Abdul Gaddy (13,) and Shawn Kemp Jr. (12). The Huskies dominated the boards early, jumping out to a 10-4 advantage, but behind the relentless hustle of Kazemi, the Ducks won the battle beneath the glass, 30-24.

“When you get a couple of rebounds, you just get back into the game,” said Kazemi. Against a Huskies frontcourt that doesn’t lack for size – Aziz N’Diaye at 7’0”, Kemp at 6’9, 255 pounds, the Ducks hung tough down low, outscoring Washington 44-28 in the paint.

Likely to see their No. 16 ranking climb even higher come Monday as multiple highly ranked teams have fallen this week, the question may no longer be whether Oregon will be dancing in March – rather, just how highly seeded they could be. In Eugene, where football is king, the hoops program is finally earning some well-deserved support.

“We gotta build some tradition in this building so it becomes a really good home court,” said Altman. “And it can be.”

Next week, the Ducks travel to the northern California, where they will visit Stanford and Cal. Now certain to be favorites on the road, the Ducks will have to prepare for a label not often bestowed on a program that not long ago sat at the bottom of the Pac-10: the hunted.

“We just gotta go down knowing it’s a business trip. Stay focused,” said Singler. “It’s hard to get two down there – I don’t think we’ve ever done it.”

Then again, as long as Singler has been around, the Ducks have never reached these heights. For the senior forward and his teammates, it’s a role worth getting used to.

E.J. Singler 32 7-9 1-2 3-4 1 3 4 2 1 7 0 18
A. Kazemi 36 4-4 0-0 3-4 2 11 1 1 0 0 2 11
T. Woods 17 3-10 0-0 2-2 2 3 0 0 1 4 4 8
J. Loyd 31 1-3 0-1 7-10 0 2 5 1 0 5 4 9
D. Dotson 27 3-5 0-0 2-4 0 4 0 2 0 3 2 8
C. Emory 23 4-7 1-3 2-2 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 11
B. Carter 5 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
W. Moore 9 2-4 0-2 5-7 1 1 2 1 0 4 4 9
W. Austin 20 2-3 0-0 3-4 1 2 0 2 3 0 1 7
  26-45 2-8 27-37 7 26 12 10 5 23 21 81
    57.8% 25.0% 73.0%
D. Simmons 22 0-0 0-0 2-2 1 6 2 1 0 2 3 2
A. N’Diaye 28 3-5 0-0 1-2 1 3 1 1 0 3 2 7
S. Suggs 29 4-10 3-3 2-2 0 0 1 2 0 2 4 13
A. Gaddy 30 4-7 2-3 3-5 3 3 5 3 0 5 5 13
C.J. Wilcox 36 6-14 2-3 0-2 0 2 1 0 0 2 4 14
A. Andrews 27 5-10 1-3 4-7 0 1 4 1 0 3 4 15
J. Jarreau 6 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
S. Kemp, Jr. 21 5-5 0-0 2-4 3 6 1 1 0 4 4 12
H. Stewart 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
27-52 8-12 14-24 8 22 15 9 0 21 27 76
    51.9% 66.7% 58.3%    

#16 Oregon Defeats Washington State 68-61, Led By E.J. Singler

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“Fellas, it’s your team.”

That’s what Oregon head coach Dana Altman said to his four seniors (E.J. Singler, Tony Woods, Arsalan Kazemi and Carlos Emory) when Oregon was down 10 at halftime to the lowly Washington State Cougars.

But for Altman it was a game of two halves. “They really took it to us the first half. They outrebounded us, out fought us, they won almost every stat. Second half was a lot different.”

Oregon defense goes for a steal against Washington State (AP Photo/Brian Davies)
Oregon defense goes for a steal against Washington State (AP Photo/Brian Davies)

The second half would prove to be a lot different as the Ducks outscored Washington State by 17 on route to a 68-61 victory.

Oregon’s defense was a key factor in the victory. After shooting above 40 percent from the field and over 50 percent from the three-point line (7-11) in the first half, the Ducks shut down the Cougars with stingy defense after halftime. The Cougars shot 27 percent from the field and missed all 11 of their three-point attempts in the second period.

Singler was also a driving force in the Ducks victory as he scored 19 points on the night, including a spurt in the second half where he scored 10 straight points. During Singler’s spurt, the Ducks took their first lead 46-46 and kept the lead from 54-53 on. Altman said this is the type of victory that happens “one of those a year or two of those a year where you’re really outplayed in the first half.”

Senior Arsalan Kazemi, who finished with 16 points in his first Pac-12 start of the season said “During halftime the coaches came after us and said that we would not win the game if we kept playing how we were playing so we had to change it up and step it up.”

And the Ducks did, coming out out of the half on a 9-0 run highlighted by an emphatic steal and dunk by Emory. Oregon went small in the second half to shut down the Cougars spread attack and also improved their shooting from 38 percent to 48 percent in the second half.

A huge breakaway dunk for the Ducks (AP Photo/Brian Davies)
A huge breakaway dunk for the Ducks (AP Photo/Brian Davies)

The Ducks committed 16 turnovers, including 10 turnovers in the first half, and Altman said most of those turnovers were caused by his players trying to do too much within the offense.

“We’re not sharp, we’re not intense and that’s something that we have to improve.”

Being recently ranked in the top 25 for the first time in five years, and the first time in Singler’s career, Singler said the Ducks are now the hunted instead of the hunter. On being the hunted versus the hunter, Altman said the difference was the mental preparation.

“Your preparation’s different. Mentally you’ve gotta play every game knowing people are coming after you. You’ve gotta have a little edge to you.”

With the win, Oregon improved to 17-2 and 6-0 in conference. The Ducks also increased their home winning streak to 19 games, tied for sixth in the nation. Going into Saturday’s home game against the 12-6 Washington Huskies, Altman knew his team has to play better.

“We didn’t take a step at being better tonight and that’s disappointing.”

E.J. Singler 30 7-12 2-4 3-3 2 5 2 1 2 3 19
A. Kazemi 32 7-13 0-0 2-3 7 2 4 0 1 3 16
T. Woods 25 2-4 0-0 3-3 1 1 0 3 2 2 7
D. Artis 26 1-5 1-4 4-6 4 3 0 1 3 3 7
D. Dotson 31 3-10 2-6 3-4 9 1 2 0 2 1 11
J. Loyd 14 0-1 0-1 0-0 1 4 1 0 1 2 0
C. Emory 26 3-8 0-1 0-2 5 2 1 0 3 4 6
B. Carter 8 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2
W. Austin 8 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 1 2 0 0
24-55 5-16 15-21 30 18 10 7 16 19 68
43.6% 31.3% 71.4%    
B. Motum 38 4-11 1-3 5-6 4 0 2 2 1 4 14
D.J. Shelton 16 2-5 1-3 0-0 7 1 0 1 2 4 5
M. Ladd 34 6-14 2-6 5-10 8 5 0 0 5 3 19
R. Woolridge 34 3-7 0-1 0-0 2 2 1 0 3 2 6
D. Lacy 28 1-8 1-5 4-4 1 1 1 0 3 3 7
W. DiIorio 14 0-2 0-1 0-0 1 1 0 0 1 2 0
D. Kernich-Drew 17 3-6 2-4 0-0 1 0 0 0 0 0 8
K. Hayenga 1 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
j. Longrus 16 1-2 0-0 0-0 3 0 1 1 0 0 2
B. Leavitt 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Hunter 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
20-56 7-24 14-20 27 10 5 4 15 19 61
    35.7% 29.2% 70.0%