Portland, OR – Oregon opened their play in the Phil Knight Invitational at the Moda Center in Portland with a 83-59 loss to undefeated and No. 20-ranked Connecticut. 6-5 Tristen Newton led the way for the Huskies scoring 23 points, 21 in the first half, as he connected on his first five three-pointers. Newton added six assists, four rebounds and two steals. 7-0 freshman Kel’el Ware was the lone bright spot for the Ducks, getting career-highs with 18 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes of play. Ware shot 6-of-8 from the field including 2-of-3 from deep.
The Huskies took a 39-28 halftime lead and expanded the difference from there in a game that was not very competitive. Oregon (2-3) played without guard Keeshawn Bathelemy, who injured his ankle Sunday against Houston and will be out of action for 4-6 weeks. That further depleted the Ducks’ guard roster as potential starters Jermaine Couisnard and Brennan Rigsby are also unavailable due to injuries. That necessitated Coach Altman to give 25 minutes of combined action to walk-ons Gabe Reichle and Brady Parris. Their lone remaining backcourt starter Will Richardson scored nine points on 3-of-9 shooting over 30 minutes.
Oregon entered the game ranked 330th in the nation in three-point shooting and 335th in free throw shooting, not a good combination. Tonight, they shot a not-bad 5-of-15 from deep but only 14-of-25 from the charity stripe. The Huskies countered with a solid 17-of-37 from deep, led by Newton’’s 5-of-6, Oregon’s perimeter defense was not good, as their bigs still need to get used to guarding in space and coverage from the rest of the players was subpar. UConn had a +10 overall rebounding advantage including 11-3 on the offensive boards. The Ducks also committed 16 turnovers to 11 from UConn.
The Huskies got good minutes from guards Jordan Hawkins (18 points on 5-of-14 from deep) and San Diego transfer Joey Calcaterra, who added 11 points on 3-of-4 3s. Center N’Faly Dante added 15 points for the Ducks on 6-of-10 from the field but was charged with four turnovers.
The Ducks move to the consolation round of the event when they play a tough Michigan State team in the last game on Friday night. The Spartans, missing injured started Malik Hall, lost 81-70 to Alabama as impressive 6-9 freshman Brandon Miller scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the winners.