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Oregon Basketball Holds the Buffaloes Second Half Charge

Despite being out-rebounded 45-37, Oregon beat the Buffs by forcing 16 turnovers.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Joseph Young let his play do the talking tonight and led Oregon past Colorado, winning 73-60. Young led all scorers with 23 points and also had a game high six assists. Dwayne Benjamin had another strong performance by scoring 11 point and grabbed 13 rebounds. Oregon is now 19-8 and 9-5 in conference; since UCLA lost tonight the Ducks are now third in the Pac-12 by themselves.

"I think we played really well on defense, we got out-rebounded, but we played pretty tough on the boards," said Benjamin after the game.

Colorado’s defensive pressure was too much for Oregon to handle at the beginning of the game. The Ducks sloppy play gave the Buffaloes an early 11-4 lead heading into the first media timeout. Young responded after the timeout and went on a lone 7-0 run, tying the game at 11-11.

"When [we were] down 11-4 it was basically rebounding," Benjamin said. "I think when we first came out they had like four offensive rebounds, so after that we just really got in a fight and we rebounded better."

The Ducks in the first 10 minutes were playing lazy defense and their sluggish play caused them to get into foul trouble early. Colorado also was hurt by fouls; two times Elgin Cook was hacked while shooting a layup and converted both three-point plays into six points for Oregon. Cooks tough interior offense helped Oregon get a 25-15 lead with over five minutes left to play in the opening half. The defense also started to find a rhythm and Jordan Bell protected the rim as usual recording two monster blocks in the first 20 minutes.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Oregon is on a 21-4 run over the last 9:01 to build a 25-15 advantage over CU.</p>&mdash; Oregon Basketball (@OregonMBB) <a href="">February 19, 2015</a></blockquote>

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The Ducks continued to give the Buffaloes fits on offense and went into halftime leading 39-22. Oregon’s defense held Colorado to shooting under 29 percent from the field and the Buffaloes were one of seven on three-pointers. Benjamin almost had a double-double in the first half, he had seven points and eight rebounds before heading into the locker room for halftime.

Coming out of halftime both teams traded baskets and Benjamin hit a three-pointer heading into the first media timeout of the second half. The big screen at MKA played "Shout" during the timeout and it gave the crowd some energy. The following possession after the timeout Colorado had an unforced turnover by a ball going right through a Colorado players hands, flying out of bounds.

Oregon started to become lackadaisical on offense and it allowed the Buffaloes to close the Ducks lead. Heading into the second media timeout of the half Oregon’s lead was cut to nine and Colorado would be in the bonus with over 10 minutes remaining in the game. The Buffaloes continued to chip away at the lead and Altman was forced to call a timeout with 9:32 left and the Ducks leading 55-48.

"We’ve got to do a better job with ball movement in the second half," said head coach Dana Altman. "We really got stagnant and that’s my fault, I didn’t get them in stuff that was my fault. I didn’t get them going quick enough, got a little conservative there, so that’s as much my fault as it is theirs."

Bell had another exciting block but looked to be hurt on the play. As Benjamin drove to the hoop and was fouled, Bell was standing at half court holding his nose. While the players on the court were setting up for Benjamin’s free throws Altman made sure to tell Bell he was doing a great job.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Could well have been Jordan Bell&#39;s most impressive block of the year and it comes at an important stretch of the game. Ducks up 58-48.</p>&mdash; Hayden Kim (@HayDayKim) <a href="">February 19, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Foul trouble continued to be a problem for Oregon down the stretch as both Jalil Abdul-Bassit and Cook had four fouls with over four minutes left and the Buffaloes charging. A three-point basket by Xavier Johnson cut the Oregon lead to five points and Altman again had to call a timeout to get his team to refocus. The Ducks picked up their intensity and got two offensive rebounds on one possession and then Dillon Brooks finished the play with a three-pointer.

With over a minute left the Ducks led 68-60, forcing the Buffaloes to foul the Ducks and hope that Oregon would miss their free throws. The Ducks were successful and made enough free throws to hold off Colorado down the stretch. A stat that proved to be vital was that Colorado only had six assists compared to 16 turnovers.

Cook finished the game with 13 points and three rebounds; Bell scored six points and had three blocks. For Colorado Askia Booker scored 20 points and Josh Scott recorded 17 rebounds.

Oregon will face the No. 9 Utah Utes Sunday at noon. The game will be on Fox Sports 1 and will also be senior night for Oregon. The Ducks still need a marquee win if they want to impress the NCAA committee when they are deciding if Oregon deserves an at-large bid.

Another milestone for Young:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>On the UO two-season scoring list, Young is up to No. 4 (1,175 pts). Only Love (1,181), Ridnour (1,191) and Brandon (1,263) ahead.</p>&mdash; Oregon Basketball (@OregonMBB) <a href="">February 19, 2015</a></blockquote>

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