Oregon 68, USC 62: Ducks Open Matthew Knight Arena in Style

EUGENE OR - JANUARY 13: Puddles the mascot takes part in the opening ceremony beofre the Oregon Ducks versus the USC Trojans game at the grand opening of the Matthew Knight Arena on January 13 2011 at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

What a great way to open the new arena.  I guess Oregon was just waiting for a packed arena, new digs and a sparkling new house before they decided to start making shots.  Five players were in double figures and Oregon used good ball movement, constant defense on USC's number one threat, Vucevic, and a second half run that put them up by as much as 20 to hold off the Trojans.  The Ducks ended up shooting over 42% from the field, and after starting slow from three, ended up hitting 7 of 13 from 3 at one point and pushing the lead to a spot that even a valiant effort by USC couldn't come back from.

The night started with a nice speech by Uncle Phil about the specialness of the new arena.  He introduced a number of the creators of Matthew Knight Arena and a number of the family members that were in attendance, including Matt's two sons.  Then we saw the remainder of 30 minute plus opening ceremony that included break dancers, drum circles, flame throwers, Puddles on a high wire and enough Oregon cheerleaders and dance team members to make you want to be there in person.

You'd have to assume that the late start contributed to both teams starting off slow.  But 3 minutes into the game Garrett Sim scored the first points in Matt Court history.  After quite a bit of back and forth in the first half, Oregon closed with an 11-5 run and a sick Nared follow up dunk to take a 32-26 half time lead.

In the second half, Jonathan Loyd, Tyrone Nared and Teondre Williams sparked a run that put Oregon up 57-37 with 11:25 left in the game.  Oregon struggled down the stretch as they don't really have a go to scorer that can create his own shot when the defense clamps down.  Finally after a number of missed opportunities by the Trojans, EJ Singler sank a couple of free throws to seal the game for Ducks.

INDIVIDUAL OBSERVATIONS:

Tyrone Nared:  Nared was a beast for Oregon off the bench tonight.  With Catron out and JJ hobbling around on one leg, Nared was called upon to play big minutes down low for Oregon and responded with 10 points 4 rebounds 1 block and a filthy follow up dunk to end the first half.

Johnathan Loyd:  Great game for Loyd.  Complete spark plug in the second half to fuel Oregon to that 20 point lead.  He was everywhere around the ball collecting 5 rebound and 3 steals.  Loyd was a pest to USC's backcourt and hit some clutch 3's to propel Oregon momentum.

Malcolm Armstead:  One of the better nights for Armstead in the box score, but the kid just doesn't look right on the floor.  At first I chalked it up to not understanding and not being comfortable in Altman's system, but I think it's something completely different.  He doesn't have the explosion or quicks that he had last year and he and Jacob look really injured.  Jacob looked like he was running on one leg at times.  Oregon doesn't have the depth to give these guys the rest they need, but they just don't look 100% and I think it's contributing massively to their play.

E.J. Singler:  EJ is struggling from the floor as teams continue to focus on him on the offensive end.  EJ shot 1-7 from the night, but continued to play his solid defense and gathered 6 boards and was 7-11 from the charity stripe to help lock down the win. 

NEXT UP

The Ducks take on Ucla at 3:00pm on Saturday that squeaked one out at the cow barn today 62-57.  Comcast Sports is supposed to be carrying this game.

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