Eugene, OR – The Oregon Ducks started the more difficult part of their non-conference schedule as the Toledo Rockets came to town. Toledo, a team which won 27 games last season and returned five of their top six scorers, came off a tough loss at nationally-ranked VCU on Tuesday.
Oregon showed that they may be better than most expected as they won their third straight game in defeating Toledo 78-68 behind 23 points from Joseph Young, 13 points and 12 rebounds from Elgin Cook and 10 points and 12 boards from Dwayne Benjamin. The Ducks, playing with only eight scholarship players, were crisp and efficient throughout the contest ending the game with 16 assists against only nine turnovers and a +10 rebounding advantage.
Oregon came out active in the second half and took a nine-point lead on a three-pointer by Casey Benson with 11:09 left. Toledo was hurt when 6’9 center Nathan Boothe was charged for his fourth foul with 12 minutes remaining in the game and subsequently fouled out at the 7:16 mark.. His back-up 6’10 Zach Garber drew his fourth foul with eight minutes left in the contest. Garber then fouled out with 6:13 left, leaving the Rockets with no bigs.
At that point Toledo was still down by nine points, as they moved 6’6 J.D. Weatherspoon (14 points, eight rebounds) to center. As they did for much of the game, Toledo then relied even more on their outside shooting. While their shooting was generally decent (11-of-27 on 3’s) the Rockets didn’t have the offensive variety to pull off the win. The Ducks put the game away late on back-to-back alley-oop dunks by Benjamin off feeds from Dillon Brooks.
The first half was evenly played with Oregon ultimately taking a 36-34 lead on a three-pointer by Joseph Young. Young lead Oregon with 13 points at the half while 5’11” point guard Julius “Juice” Brown canned four three-pointers on the way to 14 points. Oregon is not a tall team but they have several quick jumpers and had a +7 rebounding advantage at the half. 6’6 Elgin Cook (6) and 6’8 Jordan Bell (5) were particularly effective on the boards. Toledo was hurt by a cold-shooting half by their third leading scorer Justin Drummond who missed all nine of his shots.
Toledo doesn’t have any NBA level prospects. Their best player is Brown, who averaged six assists per game last year and had better than a 2:1 assist/turnover ratio. In this game he did not exhibit much penetration and distribution skills, as he seemed content to take open shots. Brown finished with 19 points on 4-of-9 three-point shooting, three assists, one turnover and two nice and-ones on drives to the hoop. Drummond had an off game, ending the contest shooting 4-of-21.
Oregon now heads to Brooklyn in the final part of the Progressive Legends Classic where they will face two nationally ranked teams, first Michigan and then either VCU or Villanova.
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