For the second game in a row, the Ducks shot like crap on the road. And for the second game in a row, the Ducks gutted out a win that they probably should have lost, using heart and defensive intensity.
Yes, the Ducks defeated Georgetown in Washington DC, 57-50. They did this despite shooting less than 40% from the field, less than 53% from the charity stripe, and less than 22% from three. They went nine minutes in the first half without a single point.
However, they were the aggressors on defense, and they controlled the tempo of the game, rendering Georgetown's huge height advantage useless. 7'2" center Roy Hibbert, who had a double-double in Eugene last year, was held to four points and three rebounds. The Hoyas killed the Ducks on the boards last year, this year they were basically even. In this one, they were able to play basically even for 37 minutes, then win the last three minutes to get their first win over a ranked team in the Eastern time zone. Ever.
There is just something about this team that hasn't been there in the past. This team has chemistry (maybe it was that trip to the Bahamas?) They work on defense. They rebound. They hustle. They have heart. The last few years, they go on the road and lay an egg. This year, they go on the road, shoot like crap, but do all the other little things that it takes to win. Vanderbilt. New Mexico. Illinois. These are the big road games that Oregon has lost the last few years. These have gotten these teams off to bad starts. This year, they had only two, but cashed in big time. Our little Duckies are growing up.
Malik Hairston also played for the first time. Although he had only eight points, he clearly had an impact on the game. Champ sprained an ankle, but should be back for the Nebraska game, a game that is starting to look better and better.
The Ducks got their marquee non-conference win, and should be in good shape for the NCAA if they finish in the top four of the conference. The way they are playing now, they could contend for confernce crown. Imagine what they'll do when they actually shoot well.
So pack the Rose Garden December 9. By then, the Ducks should be sitting just outside of the top 25, and a W over the Huskers could be enough to get them back into the polls. YES! WE ARE STARTING TO MATTER AGAIN!!!
Shuck the Huskers!