I told a number of people going into this game that we were most likely looking at a loss. I didn't like the matchup, especially underneath the basket with Oakland center Keith Benson. I was looking at who Oakland had played and assumed we would have trouble adjusting to a team with experience playing the best of the best in the nation. Benson had 20 points against the Kansas Jayhawks in a loss just a month ago. The Ducks held him to 14 points and although that number may not seem shocking, it represents a mantra that seems to be taking root in this Oregon team... defense.
Turnovers may look fairly even between both teams but Oregon was much better at turning those turnovers into points. On 13 Oakland turnovers, the Ducks translated those into 32 points on the offensive end. When you’re scoring after almost every turnover by your opponent, that puts even more pressure on them to score on their chances and Oakland just couldn't sink any buckets in either half. If there was a game that the Oregon defense came alive, this was the game. Oregon had 10 turnovers themselves but the defense only allowed Oakland to convert those turnovers into 13 points.
The Ducks played a complete game, forcing turnovers, winning the rebounding battle, and converting on opportunities to score from the field at a 47% clip. You know the offense is clicking when you only have 8 fast break points and still shoot that well from the field. 40 of the 72 points Oregon scored were in the paint. My only quibble was with our free throw percentage which hovered around 63% for the game, most of that was due to Michael Dunigan having a rough night from the line, going 4-8 from the charity stripe. Given the rest of his game though, we'll let that slide for now.
Jamil Wilson had a good game, going 3-4 from the field including 2-2 from beyond the arc. Throw in a couple of blocks and a steal and you have a nice effort from Jamil. He made some key plays in the first half including a steal of an in-bounds pass and took it to the Oakland free throw line and buried a jumper. 2 minutes later, he buried a 3-pointer from the corner to give Oregon a 16-10 lead halfway through the first half.
What can you say about Michael Dunigan's performance in this game? Big Mike was 6-11 from the field, 4-8 from the line for 16 points, 10 of those coming in the first half. He also grabbed 10 rebounds, including 6 offensive boards, recording his first double-double of the season and his third of his career. His defense on Benson was a big reason for the Ducks' defensive success. His struggles at the free throw line continue to plague him and I'm forced to wonder if this will be one of his weaknesses throughout his career. He has come a long way in a short time this year and he should get better as we go into Pac-10 play.
Welcome back Tajuan Porter as he played his most minutes since the Montana game back on November 23rd. The rust was obvious for TP as he was 0-4 from the field. As he gets his rhythm back, he should be a nice threat in the back court. With how Armstead and Sim have been playing, you have to wonder who TP will integrate into the team that appears to be gaining cohesion.
Jeremy Jacob was 5-7 from the field and had 12 points. He was in foul trouble in the first half but played well in his 13 minutes. To put his numbers in perspective, his 12 points is a career high, making 3 out of the last 5 games where he's set a new career high in points.
EJ Singler had a career high in rebounds with 12. While he didn't have a great shooting night (only 2-9 from the field), he was great from the line making 4 of 5 attempts giving him 8 points for the game. He also had 4 assists in 35 minutes.
Malcolm Armstead is really coming into his own in the backcourt for Oregon, going 6-13 from the field for 12 points and 6 assists. That makes 3 out of the last 4 games with double digit points for Malcolm.
For those wondering why Longmire and Williams haven't started the last few games, it has to do with academic progress. This game was a big win for Oregon. I know we’re talking about Oakland here, but this was a monkey on Oregon's back that needed to be dealt with and it was in a big way. With two relative cream puffs coming to Mac Court in Idaho State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Ducks have an opportunity to be 8-4 going into the Pac-10 season with momentum. You have to be encouraged by how Oregon played in this game, especially in their half court sets.
Next game: Idaho State at Mac Court in Eugene, OR. Tuesday, December 22nd at 7pm