Eugene, OR – The Oregon Ducks had to battle down to the wire against the visiting Texas Southern Tigers, who were looking to upset Oregon for the second straight year. The Tigers fell short in the contest due to the outstanding play of Oregon’s Payton Pritchard. Pritchard scored 25 of his 29 points in the second half to lead the Ducks an 84-78 victory in front of 6,764 fans at Matt Knight Arena.
The No. 8-ranked Ducks struggled as a team on the offensive side of the ball with some sloppy play as they turned the ball over a season-high 19 times. In addition, Oregon started the game shooting just 1-for-13 from the 3-point line. After trailing the Tigers 26-13 with 7:41 left in the first half, Oregon started hitting shots from the perimeter. They finished the first half on a 23-7 run to end the first half due to the sharp shooting of Will Richardson. Richardson sparked the offense during the run by hitting three 3-pointers in a row. He finished the game with a career high 18 points on 6-of-11 from the field including 4-for-7 from the 3-point line. The Ducks went into the break leading 36-33.
The two teams went back and forth exchanging leads in the second half, but Pritchard stole the show by scoring 25 second half points. It was similar to his performance in the Michigan game when Pritchard took control of the game when his team needed him the most. Pritchard willed his way to the basket, scoring at the hoop, hitting jumpers and drawing fouls to go to the free throw line where he made 15-for-17. His lay-in with 4:13 remaining in the game gave the Ducks the lead for good as the Tigers could not contain Pritchard in the second half. He finished the game with a game high of 29 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds.
Texas Southern was the team that came ready to play Saturday night as they shot 55 percent (15-for-27) from the field in the first half and continued to hit big shots throughout the game. Senior point guard Tyrik Armstrong had an impressive game as he effectively ran the pick and roll game. He created mismatches and got to the basket with his quickness. He consistently made floaters and jump shots over the bigger and more athletic Ducks, finishing the game with 21 points (9-of-12 FG) and six assists.
Oregon didn’t have an answer for 6-9 forward Chris Baldwin who shot 5-of-6 from the 3-point line and scored 27 points off the bench. On the season he has been averaging 7.1 points per game, but tonight he kept his team within reach of pulling off a huge upset by spotting up and hitting shot at times when the Ducks seemed to be gaining momentum. Junior John Jones who last year shot well on Oregon’s home floor scoring 20 points backed it up again by recording 15 points.
Oregon (10-2) will return to the court on December 29th as they host Alabama State (1-10). Texas Southern (3-8) will face another Pac-12 school next Saturday when they travel to play Arizona State (8-4).
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