PORTLAND, Oregon — Connecticut defeated Oregon 71-63 on opening night of the inaugural PK80 Invitational from the Moda Center. Officials dictated tempo during the Thanksgiving affair, sending players to the charity stripe on 57 occasions with 53 total player fouls. With the loss, the Ducks (4-1) slide onto the loser’s side of the ‘Victory’ bracket.
“First time under the lights with a little pressure and we sure didn't handle it very well,” said UO head coach Dana Altman.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Not many people could dream a better celebration for their 80th birthday, but clearly Phil Knight has outdone himself once again. There is no substitute for greatness. Yet, this loss has dampened spirits a bit.
PK80: 23 combined National Championships, 89 combined Final Four’s and 391 NCAA Tournament appearances for the incredible 16-team field. The games are underway and they won’t stop until Sunday night. There will be a break on college football Saturday, however.
UConn led Oregon 38-31 at the half. The Hukies shot 52 percent from the field, but were dreadful from downtown 2-of-11 (18 percent).
The Ducks were fortunate to be down only seven, as they missed nine of their final 10 shots of the half.
The story of the first 20 minutes was UConn getting to the charity stripe a game-high 16 times. They converted on 10 of them. Meanwhile, the Ducks only attempted two free throws in the first 20 minutes. The officiating was egregious at times against UO.
That's a season-high 24 fouls whistled on the Ducks.— Oregon Basketball (@OregonMBB) November 24, 2017
Overall, Oregon shot just 33 percent from the floor. Payton Pritchard and Roman Sorkin led the way with six points each. Elijah Brown headed to the locker room with five points on 2-of-7 shooting.
The second half was a different game for the Ducks. They took their first lead of the tournament for eight seconds before the Huskies recaptured the advantage. Overall, UO led for just 11:00 minutes during the contest (all in the second half).
“Our ball movement on the offensive end was terrible,” said Altman.
Oregon fought to reclaim the lead with an impressive 16-4 run. They were ahead 47-44 with 11:52 left in the game.
It was back-and-forth throughout, but the whistles continued to slow down play. The Huskies made a decisive 6-0 run in the final 2:21 of ballgame before Pritchard turned it over with 49 seconds left.
UConn went to the free throw line a game-high 34 times, converting 24 of them (70 percent). In total, 30 player fouls were called against the Ducks.
Elijah Brown, Troy Brown and MiKyle McIntosh all fouled out for UO, while David Onuorah and Josh Carlton each fouled out for the Huskies.
The Ducks were incredibly efficient from the stripe, capitalizing at every turn. Oregon shot 87 percent from the line (20-of-23).
Altman turned up the defensive pressure in the final 20, which could have applied more pressure on the officials. Regardless, UConn amassed just 27 percent (9-of-33) from the floor. It was a better defensive effort.
“It's just a good win. We just want to keep winning, keep doing it the right way, playing the right way,” stated UConn head coach Kevin Ollie. “Those guys went through a lot last year but they learned from it and we're just trying to play good solid basketball.”
Oregon’s offense struggled for all 40 minutes, shooting 33 percent in each half. They were even worse from downtown (5-of-24).
McIntosh secured his first double-double with the Ducks. The senior transfer from Illinois State registered 11 rebounds and 10 points in 24 minutes of action.
Pritchard led the way with a team-high 14 points on 4-of-13 from the field. He was 2-of-9 from 3-point territory, while he dished out two assists.
Paul White was the next highest scorer with 12 points on 3-of-5 from the field.
Troy Brown fouled out after scoring six points on 2-of-6 from the field. The true freshman secured eight boards, alongside an assist before departing with five fouls.
Kenny Wooten came off the bench for a solid showing. He demonstrated his versatility, alongside reminding some of Jordan Bell as he guarded the opposing point guard. He secured nine boards and six points, alongside constantly altering UConn shots.
Pritchard, Elijah, Troy, McIntosh and White drew the start for Altman to open the tournament.
Sorkin returned after a two-game absence. He responded with six early points.
UConn was 3-of-17 on 3-pointers and just 1-of-6 in the second half.
The Huskies were led by their star, Tery Larrier and his game-high 18 points and seven boards. He was 5-of-15 from the floor and a putrid 1-of-6 from 3-point land.
Alterique Gilbert and Jalen Adams recorded 16 points each. Gilbert was the high-man in the first half with 11 points. They finished 13-of-29 combined from the floor.
This game was played exactly a year (Nov. 23) from the Maui Invitational meeting between these two teams. Last year in Hawaii, the Ducks handed UConn a 79-69 loss in the fifth place game of the tournament.
Next up, Oregon (4-1) will play the DePaul Blue Demons (1-3) on the second day of action from the PK80 Invitational. The game will tip on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. PT from the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It will be televised live on ESPNU.
For a complete breakdown of games in the Victory and Motion, you may click this link.