Scrubs is on tonight, so I need to make this relatively brief.
Holy crap, what a game!
Oregon survived a heavyweight bout at Kansas State. The teams traded blows all game long, and in the end, Oregon was left standing. Michael Beasley was everything that was advertised, but Maarty Leunen and Joevan Catron both played phenomenal games. I just found myself praying that we didn't go into double OT, as there was no way we were going to stop Beasley after Maarty and Joevan fouled out.
K-State had all the hot shooting early, but Oregon's defense showed up when it was really needed. The match up zone neutralized Beasley, and the Wildcats settled for bricking threes left and right, allowing the Ducks to catch up from a double digit lead. Oregon was cold in the first half, and only Bryce Taylor and Maarty Leunen hitting a couple of timely shots from outside kept Oregon in the game. Nothing was happening inside for the Ducks.
But of all players to step up in the second half, it was Joevan freaking Catron. If there was one thing that worried me about this game, it was that Malik Hairston had exactly zero points after halftime? But Joevan stepped up, scoring all 15 of his points after halftime. He also had a cool eight rebounds. And there was just something about his attitude--he WANTED to be the man. Of all the guys on the team, Catron may just have been the most important player for the Ducks tonight. It also helped that we stopped letting KSU dominate the boards. Rebounding had been another concern--but the Ducks lost the battle on the boards by only one in this game. Maarty was nothing short of phenomenal. Oh, and Tajuan hit some big shots late in OT as well.
This game answers a lot of questions for us. Where is the defense? It showed up in a big way tonight. How would the Ducks respond to losing the St. Mary's game? By going into the house of a ranked team, taking their best shot, and pulling out a gutty overtime win. How would we deal with a team that can pound it inside? Good enough to win. And we pulled out the marquee non-conference road win that every team needs to impress the tournament committee. A good night on all counts.
If there are any concerns, they are the play of Malik in the second half. But Bryce, Maarty, Joevan, and Tajuan got the job done. Over a week to rest before Pape Jam and Utah. Time to get another good OOC win.