The game was never really in question Friday evening thanks to some early hot shooting from the Oregon Ducks Men’s Basketball team in their contest against SMU. The Mustangs were able to get the lead down to 12 late in the first half, but that’s as close as they ever got as Oregon cruised 86-63 at Matthew Knight Arena to move to 2-0.
The no.13 Ducks jumped out to a 23-6 lead to open the game, hitting their first seven shots, and played stellar defense, holding SMU to 35 first half points. The defensive effort continued into the second half as Oregon pushed a 15-point halftime lead to 25. Oregon held SMU to 37.7 percent shooting for the game.
Eric Williams Jr. led Oregon with 19 points, and Will Richardson and Jacob Young each had 18. Williams and Richardson, both Seniors, are already proving to be just the kind of veteran leaders that have been a trademark of Altman teams. Young is looking very similar to big brother and former Oregon star Joseph Young, and sophomore Franck Kepnang has added some smooth post moves offensively to compliment his rebounding and rim-protecting prowess.
The Ducks handled a solid team for the second game in a row and will only get stronger with the eventual return of skilled big man N’Faly Dante. Oregon’s transfers, a staple of Altman-coached teams, are already flourishing. There’s every reason to feel good about this team.
However, there was a smudge on an otherwise brilliant performance. Oregon was 5 of 12 on free throws in the first half and 11 of 20 for the game. It’s easy enough to overlook a stat like then when you win by 20 plus and play stifling defense but assuredly Altman will not be pleased nor should he be.
Eventually Oregon will find itself in a tighter game where free throws could be the difference between a win and a loss. It’s still very early, but it could be very problematic if not addressed quickly.
For now though, it looks like this year’s men’s squad has the potential to be a very special group and fans should be encouraged on the whole.