The two major problems that showed up in Oregon’s November 11 loss to Irvine remained areas the Ducks need to work on in tonight’s game against the #3 Houston Cougars in Eugene. The Ducks committed 16 turnovers leading to 30 Houston points and shot only 13 percent from the 3-point line in a 66 - 56 loss in Matthew Knight Arena. Given the statistics in this game, it’s amazing it was as close as it was but Oregon played good, high energy defense in parts of the game that allowed them to stay in it. N’Faly Dante again led Oregon with an outstanding effort. Dante scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 0 turnovers. Dante was the only Oregon starter without a turnover. Quincy Guerrier had 12 points - mostly in the second half as Oregon rallied - and Will Richardson chipped in 13. Oregon continued to experiment with a “Twin Towers” starting lineup, as both Dante and Nate Bittle were in together for much of the game. Bittle had 7 points and 3 rebounds.
Neither team started quickly as both took several possessions to get comfortable. Oregon jumped to a 4 - 0 lead after 2 minutes on a Guerrier free throw and a Richardson 3-pointer. The Ducks couldn’t capitalize, though, as Bittle missed twice from inside and Houston scored 5 points sandwiching a Dante lob and dunk to make it Oregon 6, Houston 5. Houston took its first lead at 8-5 on a desperation 3-point heave as the shot clock expired at 14:58. Guerrier became the first Oregon “victim” of an NCAA rule change when he flopped to the floor after his 3-point attempt at 14:43. In previous seasons, Guerrier’s action would have drawn a warning, but no real penalty. This season the warning has been done away with, and instead a technical foul is assessed on the first such “unnatural action” by a player. Houston converted for a 9 - 6 lead. The game remained close, and Oregon came back to earn a 15 - 15 tie on a Rivaldo Soares steal and layup at 9:43.
Oregon was having good success on the glass to this point, outrebounding the Cougars 14 - 9. But the Ducks turned the ball over on 4 straight possessions leading to 12 straight Houston points and a 27 - 15 Cougars lead at about 7:00. Oregon closed to 27 - 20 on a Bittle 3-pointer which at that point made Oregon just 2 - 12 from beyond the arc. Neither team could score for the next 2 minutes until Oregon’s Keeshawn Barthelemy made a layup at 3:07 to cut Oregon’s deficit to 6 points. Houston would hit one more 3 and Oregon would score a Richardson layup before halftime. When the horn sounded, Houston led 31 - 24.
For the half, Dante had 7 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Richardson scored 7 as well and had 1 assist but 5 turnovers. The Ducks had 10 offensive rebounds but shot only 33.3 percent from the field overall and were just 2 - 15 (13.3%) from the 3-point line. The Ducks also missed 4 of 6 free throws.
Oregon started off the half very well scoring 5 of the first 7 points and closing Houston’s lead to just 2 points at 33 - 31. The Ducks continued to battle, working very hard on defense including some light full-court pressing and getting points from Guerrier and Dante from the foul line and inside penetration. When Dante was fouled inside and earned an “and-one”, Oregon was still within 3 at 41 - 38 at 12:47. Unfortunately Oregon ramped up their turnover game and Houston scored 7 straight to lead by 10 again at 48 - 38 over the next 90 seconds. After a Bittle layup, Houston ran off 7 more in a row to lead 55 - 40 at 8:06.
Another Oregon turnover and Houston layup gave the Cougars a 60 - 48 lead with 5:05 left. Oregon managed to close to 60 - 54 on two Kel’el Ware free throws, a Guerrier layup, and two Richardson free throws but Oregon couldn’t sustain the defensive and offensive effort needed to close further and while the Ducks had fouls to give to stop the clock, Houston hit another 3 and scored another layup and free throw off an Oregon turnover to reach their game total of 66 and Oregon had only a Richardson layup to show in opposition. The #3 Cougars walked off Kilkenny Court with the 66 - 56 victory.
For the game, Oregon had 3 players in double figures, but shot just 38.8 percent from the field and 3 - 22 from beyond the 3-point line. Oregon owned the boards 37 - 28 but committed 16 turnovers which led to 30 Houston points, almost half their total. By contrast, Houston shot 50 percent from 3-point land.
Oregon (2-2) next faces the University of Connecticut in Portland as part of the PK80 Phil Knight Invitational. That tournament brings together outstanding college teams from the Men’s and Women’s division beginning on November 24. Addicted to Quack will cover both the Oregon Men’s and Women’s games in this tournament.