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(18) Oregon drops second straight in 65-61 loss to Houston

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Houston
Galen Robinson Jr. attempts layup against Kenny Wooten Jr.
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

It’s early, but things aren’t trending in the right direction for Altman and his 4-3 Ducks falling to the undefeated Houston Cougars.

Time off obviously didn’t seem to help the ducks, who were 4-1 before Thanksgiving. Since the break, Oregon has gone 0-2 against unranked opponents. Instead of ducks, Oregon looked more like groundhogs digging themselves further into a hole with all the turnovers in the half against the Cougars. Houston went on an 18-3 run in the first to stretch their lead to 20 points with less then four minutes remaining before closing out the half 37-18.

Facing their first true road game of the season, Oregon had simply no answer for Houston offensively, or defensively. The guard play by Armoni Brooks and Nate Hinton went simply unmatched and despite Oregon’s attempt to claw back into the game in the second half, the deficit was insurmountable. This isn’t the first veteran roster the Ducks have had problems with. The previous loss to Texas Southern was to another veteran squad that started 4 seniors, followed by a Houston team made up of a starting rotation with a freshman and four upperclassmen.

Ducks’ head coach Dana Altman has struggled at times figuring out the best lineup to put on the floor in pressure situations and late game moments. Will Richardson has been Altman’s answer averaging more than 24 minutes since Nov. 20’s game against Green Bay. While Richardson possesses the length and athleticism to be a solid guard, the question of whether-or-not he has the mental wherewithal to play in crunch time has yet to totally be seen. Altman seems to trust the freshman’s mentality, and on a night where Pritchard struggled and Houston’s guards were dominating, there wasn’t much of a choice.

Despite lighting up the scoreboard in the second half for 43 points, Oregon didn’t have enough in them to close out the game in time. They didn’t show up for both halves and that’s unacceptable against an older, more experienced team like Houston on the road.

Finding the right combination of guys to put on the floor is going to be a season-long task for Altman. With the debut of five-star freshman forward Louis King slowly making its way, Altman will have more cards in his hand to play with; perhaps meaning a decline in minutes returning for Richardson. One thing’s for sure, Duck fans should be excited about the freshman’s debut and it couldn’t come at a better time as Oregon is at risk of dropping three straight. King’s debut won’t come till a bit later in Dec., but it won’t be a moment too soon.

Take-aways from the game:

  • Ducks slow to get the wheels turning to start games, puts them behind early and a little to often.
  • Maybe we need Louis King more than originally thought.
  • Turnovers continue to kill undisciplined Ducks roster.
  • Pritchard struggles while no one seemed willing or able to pick up the slack.
  • Richardson getting lots of time, good or bad? Maybe too early to tell.
  • 10 TO’s in first half, 16 total - Way too many in the first let alone the whole game. Can’t expect to win like that.
  • First half FG% 31.6 (6-19).
  • The lack of board dominance especially on the defensive end needs to be corrected. Ducks getting beat too often by second chance baskets.
  • Ducks average TO’s per game this season: 12.6.
  • Ducks average 38.3 REB per game.


*Payton Pritchard: (35 MIN) 8 PTS / 3 REB / 4 PF

*Bol Bol: (36 MIN) 23 PTS / 7 REB / 1 AST

*Kenny Wooten Jr.: (24 MIN) 6 PTS / 3 REB

*Ehab Amin: (18 MIN) 2 PTS / 6 REB / 1 AST

*Paul White: (22 MIN) 3 PTS / 2 REB / 2 AST

Victor Bailey Jr: (18 MIN) 3 PTS / 2 REB / 2 AST

Will Richardson: (32 MIN) 16 PTS / 7 REB / 4 AST

Abu Kigab: (14 MIN) 0 PTS / 2 REB / 1 AST

Fancis Okoro: (1 MIN)


*Cedrick Alley Jr.: (31 MIN) 3 PTS / 2 REB / 2 AST

*Breaon Brady: (9 MIN) 0 PTS / 2 REB

*Galen Robinson Jr.: (34 MIN) 5 PTS / 6 REB / 7 AST

*Armoni Brooks: (37 MIN) 22 PTS / 9 REB

*Corey Davis Jr.: (32 MIN) 12 PTS / 3 REB / 4 AST

Fabian White Jr.: (16 MIN) 7 PTS / 1 REB

Brison Gresham: (24 MIN) 2 PTS / 8 REB / 1 AST

Nate Hinton: (17 MIN) 14 PTS / 4 REB

December should look a little more cheerful for Oregon facing 3-5 Omaha on Saturday and unlikely to face a ranked opponent the rest of December. This could be a good launching point for the Ducks if they can start correcting some of the mistakes and clean up their game. The rest of the month of December is very winnable, but these Ducks haven’t come out strong to start the season let-alone a game so Altman will have his work cut out for him.

Follow Colt Johnson on Twitter @Barefoot_Sensei