Oregon faced off with the UTSA Road Runners in their first game home after getting a split in Las Vegas against two Top 25 opponents. The Ducks got 62 points in the paint and 33 off turnovers en route to a 95-78 win Thursday night. "They were a little bit smaller inside. It was our emphasis to get the ball in the paint…and get shots in the paint." Senior Tony Woods said about Oregon’s work in the key. Arsalan Kazemi lead the way, filling the stat sheet with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. Freshman point guard Dominic Artis added 16, and Tony Woods accounted for 15 of Oregon’s 33 bench points as the Ducks pulled away early, then held UTSA at bay and then pulled away late. Coach Altman had high praise for his opponent stating that the Road Runners "knew what they wanted to do, they stretched us out…they shot the ball extremely well."
Both teams shot the lights out in the first half, the Ducks connecting on 57% from the field and the Road Runners shooting at a 55% clip. UTSA came out firing, leading early on but the Ducks used a 19-4 run to open up a 36-24 lead which they wouldn’t relinquish. While the Ducks were sloppy on both ends of the ball, they were able to convert 11 UTSA turnovers into 18 points. The Ducks also asserted themselves in the paint getting 28 of their 62 total in the first half. Much of that came from Arsalan Kazemi who was starting his first game in an Oregon uniform. In the first half he had 8 points and 3 steals. Leading the way for UTSA was Michael Hale III who had 13 of his 18 in the first half going 4 of 5 from three point land. Hale left the game early in the second half with what appeared to be a head injury. "That was a big factor. He was chewin’ us up…" Altman added about Hale after the game.
The second half followed much the same script as the first as the Runners came out of the gates and cut the Ducks lead to 5 before the Ducks went on a 12-2 run to put the game away for good. The Road Runners really missed Hale in the second half, but they got their scoring from Jeromie Hill and Kannon Burrage who were both in double figures in the second half alone. For the game they contributed 19 and 17 respectively. A big dunk by Tony Woods at the midway point of the second half really put the cap on the game as UTSA would get no closer than 7 down the stretch.
The one glaring problem with the offense continues to be turnovers. The Ducks committed 18 on the game, which only lead to 12 Road Runner points but against a higher caliber team like Arizona or UCLA, that is simply not going to cut it. "When you have 18 turnovers, it’s hard to get excited." Altman said, "Tonight we hit some shots so it was a better offensive game for us…we’ve got to make simpler plays." All in all it was nearly a wire to wire win that the Ducks can grow on but they have to show improvement before the conference schedule. If Kazemi can keep up his output in the manner he did tonight, he could help the team go a long way in making some noise in the conference. "That’s the main reason I’m here, to get to the NCAA. I know its way far away but that’s the only reason I’m here." Kazemi stated after the game.
Also concerning for the Ducks was their energy out of the gates in both the first and second halves. In the first 5 minutes of each half the Road Runners scored a combined 29 points before the Ducks were able to apply pressure on the ball. They simply have to come out focused and as Woods said "Get up for every game."
Tony Woods and Arsalan Kazemi Postgame 11/29 (via Jake Tabor)
Dana Altman Postgame 11/29 (via Jake Tabor)