Eugene, OR – An Oregon three game losing streak has not occurred often in the Dana Altman era. The Ducks didn’t head in that direction as they returned home on a two-game losing streak to coast to a 84-61 win over Nebraska-Omaha (3-7) before 8,052 at Matthew Knight Arena. Oregon (5-3) was buoyed by the debut of 5-star recruit Louis King. King has been recovering from a knee injury and scored five points in his first minute of play. He ended the night with 11 points in a limited 16 minutes of action and hit 3-of-4 from distance.
The Ducks were led by a career-high 20 points from 6-9 Kenny Wooten who hit 9-of-12 from the field including six dunks. 7-2 Bol Bol connected on two three-pointers and made several mid-range jumpers for 18 points to go along with ten rebounds. Oregon got a little lackluster on defense in the second half as Omaha’s 6-3 junior JT Gibson (18 points) connected on four 3s and helped bring the visitors to within 71-57 at the under four minute timeout. Victor Bailey Jr. (16 points and a career-high six rebounds) helped Oregon maintain separation, hitting all three of his second half three-point attempts.
Oregon has been having trouble shooting this far this season even on uncontested shots. Altman pulled Paul White, who has been ineffective lately, from the starting lineup, replacing him with 6-6 Abu Kijab. Kijab (seven rebounds) provided some energy but what Oregon needed was for someone to hit some outside shots. King did that, making his only two three-point attempts in the first half. Bailey Jr. helped as well, hitting a three-pointer and a mid-range jumper while scoring seven points in his seven minutes of first half play and registering a +18 point differential in his court time. Wooten Jr. added ten first half points including an offensive rebound and explosive dunk afterwards. Bol also added ten first half points connecting on 2-of-3 from distance. Oregon led 44-23 at the half.
Will Richardson also earned a start after playing very well in a reserve role in the last four games. Richardson plays under control (1.5 to 1 assist to turnover ratio) and gets the team into their offense well. Starting Richardson relieves Payton Pritchard of some ball-handling duties. Pritchard shot over 40 percent on 3s last season and needs to get more catch and shoot options. Pritchard shot only 1-of-5 on 3s tonight but played a good floor game with seven assists and no turnovers. Richardson added four assists against only one turnover.
The Ducks connected on a season-best 12-of-23 from distance and shot 59 percent overall from the floor. Oregon dominated inside destroying the Mavericks on the boards by an astounding 36-13 margin, outscoring them in the paint 34-14 and in second chance points 16-3. All in all, despite their second have defensive shortcomings, it was a step in the right direction for the Ducks.
Oregon should get more of a challenge when they return to the court with a home contest against a veteran San Diego (7-2) squad on Wednesday night.