Junior JUCO transfer Chis Duarte put together one of his best performances of the season. And while this game will always be in Oregon lore as Payton Pritchard’s 600th career assist game, the effort put together on both ends of the floor by Duarte must be put on notice.
The guard combo of Duarte and Pritchard were option 1a., and 1b. in No. 12 Oregon’s conference victory over the Pac-12 leading USC Trojans. Duarte’s habit of red-hot first halves and nonexistent second halves came to an end against USC. Duarte led the Ducks in points, rebounds and steals. His 30 points led Oregon and his eight steals set a Matthew Knight arena record. There’s been a defensive spark lit under the athletic wing and it’s officially paying dividends.
This man did it all tonight. @chrisdu40618717 is the first D1 player since 1999 to have at least 30 points, 11 boards and 8 steals in a game.— Oregon Men's Basketball (@OregonMBB) January 24, 2020
His steals are also the most by an Oregon player since Kenya Wilkins had a program-record nine in 1996. #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/afHXc2MYQd
It was another breakout performance for the Dominican Republic native and with his contribution on both ends of the floor, perhaps the game would have ended way before the second overtime. Pritchard was the only other Duck to score double digits with another Wooden Award caliber performance scoring 24 points and seven assists. His 600th assist went to, who else, but Duarte. The two combined for 54 of Oregon’s 79 points, carrying the weight for the Ducks.
Head coach Dana Altman continues to mix up his starting five, most likely due to the lack of consistency on the offensive side. Sophomore Will Richardson started his second straight game and forward Chandler Lawson was inserted into the starting lineup with N’Faly Dante out with a knee injury.
With just a two point lead entering the second half, Duarte and the Ducks took a commanding lead early in the third. Oregon pushed their lead to 10 with a Pritchard-fed Alley-oop by Duarte and maintained a nearly double-digit cushion until the Trojans rattled off an 11-0 run. The run would lead the game into OT after the Ducks failed to capitalize on their final possession of regulation - Pritchard attempted to set up a closer shot, but was forced to dish it back out with basically no time left.
Oregon’s hands stayed active in overtime, forcing a total of 14 turnovers, and once Duarte started hitting his free throws it was a wrap; He finished 4/4 from the stripe through both overtime periods carrying the Ducks to their second-straight OT victory.
USC drops to fourth in the Pac-12 after the loss, bumping Oregon up to second with a 5-2 conference record behind the 15-3 (4-1) Stanford Cardinal. The Ducks will get one more game at home before heading out on a three-game road trip where they’ll be set to face conference leading Stanford.