Eugene, OR – Oregon’s backcourt of Payton Pritchard and Anthony Mathis combined for 34 points and seven three-pointers as the Ducks defeated a tough Houston team 78-66 in front of 8.095 fans at Matthew Knight Arena tonight. Mathis connected on 5-of-9 3s as he scored a team-high 18 points. Pritchard made 2-of-5 3s, scored 16 points and added five assists against only two turnovers in 37 minutes of action. Caleb Mills impressed for the Cougars, scoring 21 points in only 18 minutes. Kansas transfer Quentin Grimes, coming off a 32-point effort in a win over Rice, was limited to eight points on 3-of-8 shooting.
The Ducks had a hard time getting going tonight and trailed by eight (22-14) with five minutes left in the first half. They turned it around prior to the end of the half thanks to two Chris Duarte (8 points) three-pointers, a three-pointer from Mathis and a three-point play by Francis Okoro with two seconds left in the half. That completed a 17-5 run and gave Oregon a 32-27 halftime lead. The Ducks put the game away midway through the second half with a 13-2 surge that gave them a 17-point lead with nine minutes remaining. They expanded the lead to 21 before coasting to the 12-point victory.
Oregon won the game rather easily despite being dominated on the boards. Houston, a contender for the American Athletic Conference title, was quicker to the ball repeatedly off the offense boards and at one point had a 14-1 edge in offensive rebounds, They closed the night with a 17-4 offensive rebound edge and a 38-26 overall domination on the boards. If the Cougars could have hit some outside shots the outcome of the game may have been different. Houston missed 19 of their first 20 three-pointers as the Ducks did a good job if trying to run them off the three-point line. The Cougars finished 2-of-20 from distance compared to Oregon’s 10-of-21. The 24-point disparity more than made up for Houston’s 21-4 edge on second chance points.
Okoro scored a career-high 12 points for Oregon, connecting on 4-of-4 from the field and making several difficult shots in the paint. Will Richardson provided steady backcourt play and added 11 points, five rebounds and two assists while being turnover free, Duarte showed very good court awareness and contributed four assists and three rebounds.
No. 11-ranked Oregon, now 5-0, travels to the Bahamas to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis where they will first face the No. 13-ranked Seton Hall Pirates. A win in that contest will likely have them facing No. 8-ranked Gonzaga next. No. 5-rated North Carolina also potentially awaits them in the top-rated Thanksgiving tournament. The event will certainly give Oregon an idea of where they stand at this point of the season.