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Game Recap: Dana Altman secures career win No. 600, as Oregon destroys Alabama State, 114-56

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Ducks extend nation-best home win-streak to 45 games

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

EUGENE, Oregon — The Ducks manhandled Alabama State, 114-56, as head coach Dana Altman secured career win No. 600 on Friday night. With Oregon’s 58-point win from Matthew Knight Arena, UO extends their nation-best home win-streak to 45 games.

If you looked up ‘team win’ in Webster’s Dictionary, they would have a box score from this contest. Oregon swarmed the Hornets (pun intended) from the start of the game.

The Ducks shot a ridiculous 70 percent (23-of-33) from the floor in the first half, coupled by 69-percent shooting from behind the arc.

“We’ve made a step after each of the last two games,” said Altman. “Our energy level was better. Our execution was better. Our shooting was better. Defensively at times, we were better. We did take a step in the right direction.”

Overall, the green and yellow completed their evening shooting exactly 62.5 percent (40-of-64) from both the field and 3-point (15-of-24) territory. Additionally, the Ducks recorded 29 team assists in the onslaught.

Oregon’s defense held Alabama State to 34.5 percent (20-of-58) shooting, including 36.5 percent from 3-point land.

Altman deflected most questions about his historic accomplishment. As usual, the modest lead man made it about his players. Nevertheless, he did touch on the subject for a moment.

“No, it does. It makes you think about all the players you had the opportunity to coach,” stated the retrospective Altman. “28 years at this level. Really good guys. I’ve been very fortunate. Guys have bought in.”

After beginning his coaching career in 1989, the Nebraska native couldn’t help but reflect on the places he’s been in his life.

“I’ve had really good guys that worked with me and the schools I’ve done work at; Oregon, Creighton, Kansas State, Marshall. Basketball is important to those schools. Even my junior college jobs, basketball is important. I’ve been really fortunate to work at great places with great coaching staffs and great players.”

Don’t let him fool you, Altman doesn’t forget a thing. In fact, after 600 wins he still remembers win No. 1 like it was yesterday.

“It was against Army. We were in a tournament in Virginia. I was so nervous. I remember the first time I jumped up, I about passed out. We beat Army the first game.”

His freshman Abu Kigab even noted what his coach brings to practice daily.

“He challenges us. That’s the beautiful thing about it. Every day he challenges us. If we can take care of (rebounding and defense), the offense will take care of itself.”

Nevertheless, the coach was pleased by the effort.

“They wanted to play better,” said the coach with 600 victories. “I thought we played good tonight. I really liked our practice on Wednesday. Kenny had a big game on the boards. I thought our effort on the ball was better.”

Kenny Wooten broke out in a big way on Friday night. The true freshman registered his first career college double-double. He amassed a game-high 19 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots. Wooten finished 7-of-11 from the field and was perfect from the charity stripe (5-for-5).

“He started going after boards and that free’d him up to do everything,” Altman replied. “Those 13 rebounds, that’s what we need. I liked his presence there. You can see the athleticism. I think he does have upside, he’ll continue to grow.”

The big man helped dominate the paint for the Ducks, outscoring the Hornets 48-14.

“His athleticism is so good,” said UO’s head coach.

UO had six total players that scored in double figures with Wooten leading the way.

Victor Bailey Jr. continued his welcoming party to college, as the true freshman tallied a career-high 18 points on 60 percent shooting. He added two boards and a dime, as the bench mob outscored ASU’s reserves 60-24.

“Our activity was better, our talking was better,” Altman stated. “We needed some games. We’ll have our opportunities. We need to take advantage.”

The Duck defense was suffocating on Friday. Oregon won the turnover margin with 34 points off ASU miscues, compared to just 10 for Alabama State. In fact, Oregon won the second-chance battle in dominant fashion, 18-4.

Altman entered Game 3 of the season with a new starting line-up. Junior transfer Paul White earned the start after his career-high (16) performance on Monday night. Payton Pritchard, Elijah Brown, Troy Brown and MiKyle McIntosh joined him.

Elijah returned to form with 15 points, his most in a Duck uniform.

“We defended better, we rebounded better, we even shared the ball,” said Elijah Brown. “I think if we cut our turnovers down a bit, as far as everything else it was pretty complete.”

The senior transfer was the catalyst against Alabama State, efficiently creating for his teammates at every opportunity.

“I was pressing too much those first few games,” stated Elijah. “I came here to be more efficient. The things Coach Altman and his staff try and teach me about being a better player, more efficient. Tonight, I let the game come to me.”

Brown concluded with six assists, three rebounds and two steals.

“I thought Elijah set a great tone for us,” Altman said after the game. “He had four assists, seven deflections. He could have taken some shots, but he passed on them. I thought he played great. He set a much better tone for us.”

As for Troy, he was better than advertised once again. Although the Ducks didn’t need him as much vs ASU, the freshman delighted with 13 points, three boards, two dimes, a blocked shot and a stolen pass.

Pritchard was on his game from the opening tip, drilling 5-of-7 shots from the field, including 3-of-4 from downtown. The sophomore led all players with a game-high seven assists. Pritchard added two boards, as well.

Abu Kigab was the sixth man on Friday. He had his best game to date with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor.

“I’m not forcing anything,” said the U19 World Cup gold medalist from Canada. “I’m letting the game come to me. Earlier, I was trying to force stuff and taking bad shots. Working every day in practice, you get used to the speed.”

The Canadian freshman added two helpers and a board.

“We definitely played better on defense,” said Kigab. “Overall, we did pretty good. We’re going to get better. Kenny’s presence was definitely felt. Having him at practice, knowing he’s behind you gives you a sense of comfort. It makes you play harder on the ball. He’s a difference maker. He’s one of the most important players on the team.”

Entering the locker room at halftime, Oregon was storming Alabama State by 33 points, 59-26. The Ducks shot a remarkable 70 percent from the floor (23-of-33), including 69 percent (9-of-13) from downtown.

UO tallied 23 points off turnovers in the first 20 minutes, while yielding just six to ASU. Additionally, the Ducks were leading 15-0 in fast break points.

“These are all Division 1 basketball teams at the end of the day,” stated Brown. “We just need to go out and worry about us. We don’t really worry about who we’re playing.”

Oregon led the rebounding margin 21-6 to the delight of Altman. Well, as much as he can be pleased at this time of the year. The most impressive stat was UO had 18 first-half assists as a team. It was a perfect half, if ever there was one.

Pritchard and Troy Brown led all scorers with 13 points each. Bailey came off the bench to wow the Matthew Knight Arena crowd with an around the back finish for two. He had 12 points in the first 20 minutes. In total, the three combined to bury 15-of-18 (83 percent) total shots from the floor in the first half.

“I think we just came out with an ultimate focus,” stated Elijah Brown. “We weren’t extremely happy about the last two games. There was a lot to work on. Coach Altman does a good job putting things in perspective for us.”

McIntosh was solid down low with eight boards, six points, two assists and a steal. The senior was 2-of-4 from the floor and he shot 50 percent from 3-point territory. He did record a team-high five turnovers in 19 minutes of action.

M.J. Cage played the best game of his young career with seven boards, five points, an assist and a 3-pointer. The freshman was perfect from the floor (2-of-2), including his one attempt from behind the arc.

“I am impressed with all the freshmen,” said Elijah Brown. “We love him (Cage). We support him. We all love each other.”

White amassed seven points (2-of-3), three rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes of action following his first start with the Ducks.

Roman Sorkin was in street clothes on the sideline and did not play. He has been dealing with a foot issue, but Altman will not rush him back. He could play against Ball State on Sunday evening.

“His foot was bothering him” said the head coach. “He took the night off. I hope he’s ready to go Sunday, but we won’t rush him back.”

ASU’s Reginald Gee scored a team-high 15 points with four rebounds for the Hornets. He was 5-of-12 from the floor.

Next up for Oregon (3-0) is Ball State (1-2) on Sunday night from MKA.

“We’re going to have to do a better job on Sunday against a veteran Ball State team,” Altman said after the win. “It will be a much better test than what we’ve faced.”

The Ducks will be looking to extend their incredible nation-best home win-streak to 46 games. Tip is slated for 6:00 p.m. PT via the Pac-12 Network.

DANA ALTMAN CAREER COACHING RECORD

It has been a long time coming to 600 career wins, but Oregon head coach Dana Altman has really picked up his winning pace since joining the Ducks in 2010 from Creighton.
Photo courtesy of basketball reference

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