It’s that time of the year, college basketball is back, and so are the fans! A new era of Ducks basketball is here, and this is now Will Richardson’s team. Oregon reloaded in the transfer portal, bringing in guys like De’Vion Harmon and Quincy Guerrier, but Richardson is now the seasoned vet on this team and will be a driving force behind their success. Oregon kicks off their non-conference schedule with a home game against the Texas Southern Tigers in what is expected to be a decisive Ducks victory.
Jacob Young got things started for Oregon’s season, hitting a three after a steal by Eric Williams Jr. Not to be outdone, Will Richardson hit his first three of the season. Jacob Young then did his best impression of Eugene Omoruyi by drawing a charge on the Tigers next possession. The Ducks led 8-4 at the first break, and some crisp passing was the name of Oregon’s game in the early going. Oklahoma transfer De’Vion Harmon got his first points at the free throw line, giving the Ducks a six point lead. Harmon is a talented scorer who toyed with entering the draft shortly after transferring to Oregon.
While the Ducks roster saw a lot of turnover, there are somethings that just don’t change at Matthew Knight Arena and one of those is the smothering zone defense Dana Altman employs. Oregon had back-to-back takeaways, and by the 11 minute mark, had already forced the Tigers into seven turnovers. A mini-comeback by the Tigers brought them to within two of Oregon, but the first basket by Rivaldo Soares including an and-1 pushed the lead back out to five.
The Tigers did a good job of stifling the Ducks in terms of shooting the ball, as they had long droughts of poor shooting. TSU does play solid defense, but this also a Ducks team with a lot of new faces that are figuring out how to play together as a team, which means there will be bumps along the way. Nate Bittle, the former five star recruit, logged his first minutes as a Duck and quickly made an impact on the defensive side, recording his first block as well as drawing a charge. The Ducks have a ton of size in the frontcourt this year, which is something they lacked after N’Faly Dante went down to injury.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball in the first half, but the Ducks took the lead back to double digits with less than two minutes left in the first half, and went into halftime leading 36-26.
Back-to-back threes by Harmon and Guerrier helped extend Oregon’s lead early in the second half, as a 10-2 run helped propel them to a 46-30 lead over the Tigers. Both Harmon and Young looked good early in their Oregon debuts, they were scoring early and often for the Ducks through the first five minutes of the second half. Will Richardson was quietly having himself a good game as well, he was already up to 15 points just a few minutes into the second half. Richardson is going to be looked at as an integral piece for the Ducks this season, they’ll rely on his cool demeanor and leadership to guide this latest iteration of Ducks as they look to repeat as Pac-12 Champs and another appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Bittle made a great pass to find Soares for the basket, as the Ducks pushed their lead to 65-44. Despite all the new faces on this basketball team, the Ducks seemed more at ease and started to put a more complete performance together and settle into the game. The turnovers continued to plague the Tigers, as they were up to 15 with six minutes left in the second half. Despite that and the long scoring droughts they’ve had, the Tigers have still played admirably tonight, their effort has been top notch and their defense gave the Ducks fits at different times. Oregon kept up their tribute to Omoruyi as they continued to rack up the charging fouls, the latest forcing Joirdon Nicholas of the Tigers to foul out with four minutes left in the half. Guerrier hit a three forcing TSU to call a timeout, down 78-56. Oregon went on to win comfortably, 83-66.
After a slow start in the first half, it was encouraging to see Oregon look more comfortable in the second half, putting away the Tigers with ease. Will Richardson led the Ducks in scoring with 20 points, while Harmon had 15 and Young added 14 of his own. These three Ducks will be crucial pieces for Oregon moving forward this season. This was the fifth meeting between Oregon and Texas Southern, with Oregon holding a 4-1 edge on the series.