Oregon traveled to Portland to take on the BYU Cougars in the Phil Knight Invitational at the Moda Center, the home of the Trail Blazers. Oregon is coming off wins over Texas Southern and SMU, while BYU is also undefeated with victories over Cleveland State and San Diego State.
Oregon started the first half dubiously, committing a shot clock violation when Quincy Guerrier didn’t realized the shot clock hadn’t reset after Eric Williams was able to rebound his first shot. Luckily for the Ducks, BYU committed their own shot clock violation immediately after so it was a wash. Alex Barcello of the Cougars kicked off the scoring in the game, and he would be someone that the Ducks needed to pay attention to as a focal point of the Cougar offense. Unfortunately, Oregon was off to a rough start offensively, as metal errors and missed shots plagued the Ducks.
Guerrier got the Ducks on the scoreboard with a three, halting a 6-0 run for the Cougars. The Ducks started out 1-6 shooting from the floor. Guerrier then tipped his own miss back in and was carrying the Ducks early, scoring their first six points. Oregon had stolen some of the momentum from BYU, but basketball is a game of runs, and a 9-0 run for the Cougars took it right back, especially with a deep three from Barcello. A De’Vion Harmon floater was able to stop the bleeding, but the 12th ranked Ducks still found themselves down seven.
A bit of good news came in the form of an appearance by talented big man N’Faly Dante, checking in for the first time since tearing his ACL in December last year. Jacob Young then took a hard fall, the Rutgers transfer appeared to trip on the foot of a photographer who was too far out on the baseline. Young was able to get up under his own power and headed to the bench. Dante then scored his first points of the season as the Ducks trailed 19-11. The shots had not been falling for the Ducks and were looking for a spark to get them going.
The scoring woes continued to haunt Oregon, since tying the game at six, BYU had outscored them 19-5 around the six minute mark in the first half, with the Ducks shooting a frigid 18% from the floor. At one point the Ducks had missed nine of their last ten shots and BYU was giving them all they could handle defensively. Will Richardson finally got his first points of the game hitting a floater, but it game with just over a minute left and Oregon was down 33-15. It had just been an awful showing on both ends of the floor for Oregon, they couldn’t get the ball in the basket and couldn’t stop BYU from getting any looks they wanted. The Ducks trailed the Cougars at halftime, 37-18. Alex Barcello led the Cougars with 13 points, while Quincy Guerrier was pacing the Ducks with six points.
Eric Williams kicked off the scoring for the Ducks, getting his first bucket on a mid-range jump shot. Oregon then forced a turnover and had Jacob Young in position for an easy basket, but he missed his shot and BYU responded with a basket to keep the lead at 17. Young managed to get some points on the next possession, his first of the night as well. Alex Barcello’s hot hand carried over into the second half, scoring a quick seven points to bring his total so far to 20.
BYU was taking everything that Oregon was giving them on defense, if the Cougars attacked the paint, they scored down low, if they were taking deep threes, they were making them. Barcello didn’t miss a shot until seven minutes had gone by in the second half. The Ducks defense was still getting turnovers, they had forced nine so far, but they were unable to capitalize on them. Williams hit a three to bring the deficit down to 18, and got the Cougars to commit an offensive foul. Dana Altman’s men were looking for anything to spark a run to try to climb out of the hole they were in.
Unfortunately the deficit continued to build for the Ducks, as they just couldn’t get anything going offensively and struggled to stop BYU from getting whatever they wanted. It’s a tough loss to take considering that Oregon played well in their first two games of the year, but we should also remember that there’s still a lot of new faces on the team that are getting used to playing with each other. There will be more bad performances, but there should be plenty of good ones too. Oregon drops to 2-1 on the season with a 81-49 loss to BYU.
It was a great moment to see N’Faly Dante return to the court after his injury last year. He had some good moments tonight and should continue to improve as he readjusts to playing more as the season continues. Much like last season, free throws continue to be a sore spot for the Ducks. They hit 90% against Texas Southern, but shot just 52% against SMU and 64% tonight. Former Arizona Wildcat Alex Barcello had a game leading 25 points on 9/11 shooting, while Eric Williams led the Ducks with 12 points. Oregon will look to bounce back on Monday when they take on the Chaminade Silverswords.