The Oregon Ducks turned in a dominant, balanced and efficient performance against what many thought would be a very difficult test in the visiting Vanderbilt Commodores on Friday night.
Inside-out play that began from the first possession on offense and a physical and stingy defense equated into an insurmountable Ducks lead in the early going.
Tony Woods was a force down low, scoring the first seven points for Oregon, with three buckets in the paint with an added foul shot. Waverly Austin added a couple baskets from the post, nailing some difficult hooks. By the game’s midway point, Oregon had scored 18 points in the paint.
“Tony really got us going and Wave had a few nice hooks,” said Ducks head coach Dana Altman. “I thought we had good production inside.”
With the attack focused close to the hoop, perimeter shooters were open, meaning Damyean Dotson, EJ Singler and Johnathan Loyd combined for five threes in the first half.
While Oregon’s offense was good against the visitors from Nashville, the defense in the first half was superb. In the first 20 minutes, the Ducks held Vanderbilt to only 20 points. Oregon did that only three times last year, against lowly Stephen F. Austin State, Utah and North Carolina Central.
Oregon flustered the Commodores, batting the ball away from players in the post, deterring second and third chance hoops from right under the rim. Open threes were hard to come by for Vandy, who went two-for-eight from downtown in the opening half, with the two makes being heavily guarded fade-aways. All in all, Vanderbilt posted an abysmal 27 percent shooting in half number one, thanks to the aggressive Ducks’ defense.
In the second half, Oregon continued the assault near the basket, drawing fouls left and right, spelling 16 free-throw attempts, of which, 14 were successful. The Ducks had 12 more points in the paint, mainly from a driving Singler (who finished with 22 points) and the powerful combination of Woods and Austin, who combined for a total of 37 minutes played, alternating time on the court until the final minutes when the game was well within hand.
When the final buzzer sounded, Oregon had scored 30 points in the paint, 18 from beyond the arc and 18 from the foul line. The Ducks entire tally was 74 points, meaning only eight points came from the midrange.
“We like to score inside, we want to shoot some threes, but shots are going to come from different places depending on how they guard us,” Altman said.