Oregon found themselves in a strange game Saturday afternoon against the Washington Huskies. It seemed as though either a team was going to make a basket or turn the ball over as both Oregon and Washington had over 20 turnovers and shot over 50% from the field. Without starting point guard, Dominic Artis, the Ducks used a strong inside presence from Arsalan Kazemi and Waverly Austin to lead Oregon to 44 points in the paint en route to a 81-76 victory before a capacity crowd at Matthew Knight Arena. The win stretched Oregon's home win streak to 20 and gave them another weekend sweep of conference foes. EJ Singler lead all scorers with a balanced scoring attack, totaling 18 points on 7 of 9 shooting. Arsalan Kazemi also contributed a double double, tallying 11 points along with 11 boards. Andrew Andrews lead the Huskies with 15 off the bench and C.J. Wilcox chipped in another 14, which is well below his season average, in a losing effort.
The first half was a tit for tat match up as the lead would change hands six times and the two squads would find themselves tied four times. The Huskies were simply scorching the nets, connecting on 65% from the field and never letting the Ducks out of their sights but were also never able to get more than two points ahead of the Ducks. Each time Washington got into the lead it seemed that the Ducks were able to answer almost instantly to tie or retake the lead themselves. The Huskies also forced 7 turnovers from the point guard tandem of Johnathan Loyd and Willie Moore who took over for an injured Dominic Artis. The Ducks though, were also hot from the field as they made 59% of their shots and carried a 4 point lead into the half.
In the second half, Washington continued their torrid shooting performance from deep making 6 of 9 in the second half including 2 in the final minute which, in conjunction with some poor free throw shooting by Oregon kept the game in doubt late. The Ducks, though would turn up the defensive pressure to keep the Huskies at bay. In a key stretch, the Ducks forced three consecutive turnovers of the Huskies and turned a 3 point lead into a 10 point lead using a full court press, "The press really gave us a big boost there. It was very effective for us. It gave us a little cushion there and then we were able to play from there." said Coach Altman on the pivotal stretch in the second half. Once the Ducks stretched the lead out to double digits, Washington would not threaten until late in the game. Arsalan Kazemi was strong for the Ducks down the stretch, corralling a pair of offensive rebounds and making the Huskies pay by turning each of them into "and 1" situations. On that stretch, Kazemi commented "When you score one time, you get back into the game...and get yourself going."
Oregon's lead swelled to as much as 14 and never got below 4 as the Huskies made a late push. Their comeback effort was thwarted and Washington was unable to take a lead in the second half, much of that thanks to Oregon's strong defensive effort. The closest they got was getting back within 4 points in the final minute as Shawn Kemp Jr. made a pair of free throws before Oregon finally pulled away.
"The turnovers really took away from the performance," mused Coach Dana Altman after the game "I thought they got out of the offense and made bad decisions." Despite the turnovers, Oregon can take a lot of positives from this win. They shot the ball well against a team that was only allowing only 37% from the field before Utah lit them up for over 60% and now Oregon averaging 59%. "A lot of it is because we got 44 points in the paint...that'll have a tendency to pull your percentages up." Altman commented about the shooting prowess. The Ducks must now go on the road to the bay area to face Stanford (11-8, 2-4) and California (11-7, 3-3), a place that has not historically been friendly to the Ducks. For comparison's sake, the same Washington team went down to the bay and swept Cal and Stanford before their recent tailspin against Utah and the Oregon schools.