I was concerned about the height of UCSB coming into this game and they exploited that advantage in the opening moments of the first half to give themselves second chance opportunities. After the initial rush, Oregon adjusted and did a much better job of rebounding, especially on the defensive end. The biggest difference in the first half was centered around 3 point shooting with Oregon shooting only 11% on 1-9 from beyond the arc. UCSB was 4-8 from three.
In the second half, neither team could pull away from the other. Free throw percentage is one of the first things to go when you're tired and I have to wonder if three games in three days wore down Oregon in this game. The Ducks were 61% from the charity stripe and most importantly, Joevan Catron was 3-8. With as much as he was getting fouled in this game, he will need to improve for us to stay competitive with better teams.
With Oregon up by 1, it was 2 defensive stops that were key in securing the victory. Knocking the ball out of bounds with 2.8 seconds left and then forcing a turnover to seal the game 72-70 for a big Ducks win. Fundamentals and solid defensive play helped get this win for Oregon and it gives us even more to build on this season.
Watching the team for the first time this season, I'm really impressed by the way Joevan Catron carries himself on the court. Last year, he was a guranteed turnover when he got the ball on the block. This year, he seems lighter, stronger and more fundamentally strong in his play and it's made a huge difference in how the Ducks play on both sides of the ball. I wasn't excited by his free throw percentage but the other parts of his game are noticably improved.
The difference in passing is night and day. The days of Tajuan Porter dribbling the ball for 30 seconds and jacking a 3 point shot from half court appear to be over. Passes are crisp and decisions are made quickly, moving the defenders around to cause opportunities. Even though we aren't excuting every play perfectly, this team doesn't get down on itself and goes back to basics.
3 big wins coming out of the BTI Tournament, this win over an NCAA Tournament Team from last year. The team has a lot to take away from their performance in tough games this weekend. With a week before their next outing, there should be some good teachable moments to soak in before the Ducks hit the hardwood. Exciting win.
Next Game: Saturday November 20th vs. San Jose State @ Mac Court - 2pm PT