Oregon basketball returned tonight, as the Ducks fell to Mizzou, 83-75. Oregon struggled early, and despite some better play in the second half, couldn’t stop Missouri from maintaining their advantage throughout the contest.
Boy it looked like Oregon hadn’t played a basketball game since March, that first half was not easy on the eyes. For most of the first half of play, Mizzou handled Oregon fairly easily until the Ducks were able to build up a bit of momentum before halftime. The Tigers dominated Oregon on the glass early on, out-rebounding the Ducks, especially on the offensive end. The Ducks also struggled with turnovers in the first half, allowing 11 points off turnovers to the Tigers in the first half. Oregon spent most of the first half looking like a team that was trying to find their identity in the first game of the post-Payton Pritchard era.
It didn’t help matters that Oregon also announced that guard Will Richardson will miss significant time after undergoing thumb surgery today, taking away an important play-maker for the Ducks. Chris Duarte Jr. and Eugene Omoruyi,
making his Ducks debut, were able to help keep Oregon in it, scoring double digit points, as they went into the break down 42-31.
The second half of play looked much better for the Ducks, albeit the result was largely the same. Oregon had a sustained run of solid defense, as Mizzou missed 15 consecutive shots, but it seemed that every time Oregon started to chip away at the Tigers lead, they were able to answer back with points of their own. Mizzou’s Xavier Pinson scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half, coming up with big shot after big shot.
Eugene Omoruyi absolutely exploded in his Oregon debut, recording a double-double with 31 points and 11 rebounds. Omoyrui was all over the place, making big play after big play, and serving as Oregon’s go-to player down the stretch. Oregon’s offense didn’t look nearly as dynamic without Eugene on the floor and he figures to be a big part of the team’s success moving on.
Oregon had to shake off over eight months of rust tonight, and while the outcome isn’t too surprising, there were plenty of takeaways from this game, both good and bad. Eugene looks like a genuine star for the Ducks, who still have plenty of talent, they just need to figure out how they are going to play together. It’ll help if the NCAA ever gets around to deciding what to do with LJ Figureoa and Aaron Estrada, two transfers waiting to see if they will get immediate eligibility for the season. The addition of these two would be huge for Oregon’s depth and should be able to contribute immediately.
The Ducks had a rough go in their first game of the 2020-21 campaign, and things don’t get easier with a battle against Seton Hall coming up on Friday, but another game means another chance to notch their first win of a young and strange season.