This was the Oregon we were hoping to see.
Yes, SE Missouri State is by far the worst foe the Ducks have faced. But Oregon had serious issues after the first two games: not being able to hit a free throw, allowing numerous offensive rebounds, turning over the ball more than 20 times a game. With road trips to Nebraska and BYU coming up in the next two weeks, the Ducks needed to prove that they could address these issues against an overmatched opponent, and boy did they ever, while throwing in some smothering defense to boot.
Offensively, Oregon looked better from the very beginning of the game. Unlike the first two games, where everything was discombobulated, the offense ran mostly through EJ Singler. It looked like last year's Oregon offense, and it was beautiful. It put players in the positions they needed to be in to succeed: EJ able to use his ability as the teams best playmaker to not only score, but the attention he commanded freed up everyone else. Garrett Sim was left free to spot up or come off screens for jumpers. Tony Woods, Olu Ashaolu, and Jeremy Jacob had the most success in the post they've had all season. Sim and Loyd faced considerably less pressure, and combined for nine assists to one turnover. It was very pleasant to see again what we saw last year, and hopefully Oregon can keep this up against better competition in the Cornhuskers on Wednesday.
It was a lot of trading baskets the first 15 minutes of the game. It was fairly low scoring, sitting at 24-21 Oregon when Altman called a timeout at the 5:36 mark. The offense was looking good as far as flow, but a number of missed shots on both ends kept the score down.
Then Oregon cranked up the pressure, and blew the Redhawks away. A 24-21 Duck lead at 5:36 turned into a 56-22 lead at the 14:19 mark of the second half, a crushing 32-1 Oregon run spanning over ten minutes led by intense Duck pressure in both the full and half court. During this ten minute stretch, Oregon forced nine turnovers and blocked three shots. Oregon shot 11-18 from the field during the stretch, the Redhawks only got off nine shots, all contested, three shoved back down their throats. At that point, the game was over and Oregon toned down the pressure, content to trade baskets and let the clock bleed on domination so thorough that Nicolas Lucenti played the final five and a half minutes of the game. As for the three areas the Ducks had really struggled with: Oregon had only eight turnovers the entire game, went 20-25 (80%) from the free throw line, and only gave up five offensive rebounds while outrebounding SEMS by ten. Mission accomplished. The only downside: two injuries in garbage time: Bruce Barron was sent to the locker room after being kicked in the head, and Tony Woods didn't return after turning his ankle. Dana Altman said after the game that it would require x-rays, and that Woods was doubtful for Nebraska, a big blow to the Ducks for that game.
- As I said above, the offense was smooth a crisp in this game. I have no idea if something just clicked, if not starting Jabari Brown had something to do with it, or what. But it looked great from the beginning. This offense needs to run through EJ Singler, and that will free up the other players to do what they do best.
- I wanted to check out the progress of the full court press. While Jerry Allen tells me it was very effective, it was hard to see it. Apparently, for non-televised games, Ozone shows the same feed that goes into the jumbotron at Matthew Knight Arena. While this gives you most of the game, it also forces you to watch a replay of every jumpshot, as well as look at the "noise meter," etc. This means that Oregon would score, you would have to watch the replay of the score, then it would cut back to the game after Oregon got the ball back or SEMS had already set up into there offense. The athletic department needs to get it together. People pay a lot of money for Ozone, and deserve to see the whole game. Fortunately, there are only four more nontelevised games left (Ozone shows the TV feed for CSNNW games). I know we got a ten second count at one point, but have no idea how it happened because I had to watch a jump shot for the second time.
- Oregon dominated SEMS on the boards. Some of that was inferior opponent, but the Ducks attacked the boards with a different attitude than what we saw previously. Woods and Ashaolu, specifically, were playing a completely different energy level.
- The Redhawks' Leon Powell came into the game averaging 18 a game on 93% shooting, this after leading the nation in FG% last season. His line: 11 minutes, 0-1 shooting, zero points, three boards, fouled out. He couldn't handle our bigs. So long as we stay healthy, nobody in this conference will have an advantage against us in the middle. Not even UCLA.
- EJ Singler had a fantastic game. The offense ran through him, and it showed. 8-10 from the field, 21 points, two assists. This team will be at its best if EJ is the focal point, he is by far Oregon's most talented offensive player. He doesn't do a single thing at a superstar level, but he does everything extremely well. Not a weakness in his game. He had seven boards to boot.
- Garrett Sim had another nice game: 14 points on 5-7 shooting, five assists, one turnover. But the defense was what really impressed me. Sim is going to give opposing guards fits this year. He has become an excellent on-ball defender.
- Tony Woods had a couple of nice post moves and a couple of big blocks. He did a better job of boxing out, but still has trouble corralling the rebound once he gets position. He has the potential to develop into an all-league type center, but that is a transition that may have to wait until next season. Could be a force if he learns to command the block, because his moves look very nice. His ankle is now a major concern, hopefully its just a sprain, and not too serious.
- Jeremy Jacob is our best rebounder, getting seven for the second game in a row. He still looks a bit awkward with his offensive moves, but its becoming more clear that he's fully healthy.
- Olu Ashaolu again didn't have a great game, fouling out in 11 minutes, but his energy looked much better.
- Johnathan Loyd has an efficient 15 minutes: eight points, four assists, three steals, only one foul. Again, he hit the pull-up jumper, which was nice to see, but he has improved tremendously on defense.
- I love Bruce Barron. Dude hasn't scored a bucket yet, but busts his ass on defense and is always on the floor. He will quickly become a fan favorite with his effort.
- Not a great game for Tyrone Nared after playing so well against EWU. He just never seemed much into the flow, and fouled out in 20 minutes.
- Brett Kingma shot 3-11, but you'd swear every shot he took was going in. Great form, ultra quick release. One of these games its just going to be on and he's going to drop 30 on somebody.
Next Up: Oregon makes a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers Wednesday at 6:00 PT on the Big Ten Network. Tony Woods is doubtful for the game. Nebraska isn't a great team, and its a win Oregon needs if they want to be in the conversation come March.