EUGENE, Oregon - The No. 5 Oregon Ducks cruised to a commanding, 91-77, victory over Army West Point. The atmosphere for the season opener from Matthew Knight Arena on Veterans Day was electric. The Ducks move their all-time record at MKA to an impressive 94-13.
The Ducks No. 5 ranking is the highest pre-season rank in school history. Oregon was also predicted to win the Pac-12 Conference for the first time in program history. The excitement level from MKA matched that sentiment Friday evening, and then some.
Casey Benson, Tyler Dorsey, Dylan Ennis, Chris Boucher and Jordan Bell drew the start for Dana Altman. Entering his seventh season, the coach just solidified a seven-year contract extension earlier Friday.
“We've got a tremendous amount of work to do,” said Altman.
Army may have stayed in the game, but the Ducks are still figuring one another out. The timing, patience and rhythm will come when everyone slides into their role. This explosive unit is just starting their collective engine with 91 total points in their first real game. Yet, consistency is still an issue. A solid first half was followed by a subpar second half.
“As a team, we started out good,” said Dorsey. “But we let up in the second half.”
Dorsey opened the season on the right foot with a 4-point play for the first Oregon points of 2016. He was fouled after drilling a triple in front of the Army bench. He continued to fill up the scoring column with a game-high 21 points.
“We got to work on details,” Dorsey stated. “We didn’t play the way we wanted. We got to get ready for Baylor. I don’t think we played a good game to be honest.”
Kavell Bigby-Williams is a name you’re going to hear quite often this season. The junior college transfer star is an impact player with a non-stop motor. After falling into early foul trouble, the big man finished with seven points and three boards off the pine.
"I was disappointed defensively the second half," Altman said. “Defensively in transition, we just don't talk.”
Keith Smith poured in four points in the first half. The freshman from Seattle scored his first collegiate bucket on a runner in the lane.
Boucher has been a force already. The Sports Illustrated cover boy did it all with 14 points, eight rebounds, and a block. He went 1 for 3 from downtown.
The Duck bench combined to score 38 points against Army. Freshman Payton Pritchard led the bench mob with 15 points, two rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal.
“It was very special,” said Dorsey in reference to playing Army on Veterans Day. “We’re honored to play on Veterans Day against Army. We appreciate what all the vets do for us. It was just an amazing atmosphere in here.”
Roman Sorkin was also a standout with 12 points, five rebounds, four blocks and three assists. The junior was very impressive on both ends of the floor. He was 2 for 2 from behind the arc, as well.
Bell led the Oregon block party that accumulated 13 total rejections. He was a monster down low with 14 points, six blocked shots, and eight boards.
“I think honestly we need to take the mentality like we did last year that ‘we're underdogs’ because we're going to get everybody's best game,” said Bell. “We got Army's best.”
The Pac-12 favorite shot 45 percent from the field, and 36 percent from deep. Meanwhile, Oregon was 28 of 34 in free throw shooting.
Oregon star Dillon Brooks did not start against Army tonight. He will miss the start of the season after having foot surgery in September. His timetable is yet to be determined.
Next up for No. 5 Oregon (1-0) are the Baylor Bears (1-0) from the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas on Tuesday. The Big 12 host defeated Oral Roberts, 76-61, in their first contest.
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