It was close for about ten minutes, and then it simply wasn’t.
With the Ducks leading 17-14 halfway through the first half, Damyean Dotson hit a three pointer that sparked what turned out to be a highlight filled 24-6 run to end the half. Included in the run were dunks from Dotson, Carlos Emory and Arsalan Kazemi, who made his debut for Oregon tonight. Johnathan Loyd hit a three from well beyond NBA range as time expired in the first half to bring the 9,137 in attendance to their feet.
“I think the crowd really sparked us today,” said senior EJ Singler, who finished with a game-high 22 points on 5-of-13 shooting. “We got a lot of energy from the students and the fans and we just took that and kind of ran with it.”
The Ducks shot 50 percent in the first half and held the Commodores to just 27 percent shooting. Even more impressively, the Ducks limited Vanderbilt’s damage from three point land, holding the talented outside shooting team to just two makes from beyond the arc in the first half and just 4-of-21 from range for the game.
As impressive as their first half numbers were, Oregon wasn’t able to replicate the effort in the second half. While the Ducks moved the ball extremely well in the first twenty minutes and had 12 assists at the break, they had only four helpers in the second half and saw their shooting percentage plummet to less than 40 percent.
“Offensively, we just weren’t as sharp in the second half as we were in the first half,” said Dana Altman.
In his first game since being cleared to play by the NCAA, Kazemi showed exactly how much of an impact he could have on the boards, leading Oregon with seven rebounds, including two offensive rebounds. The senior from Iran finished with a quiet five points in his first game action since last year, but his rebounding presence didn’t go unnoticed.
Turning Point. The Ducks 24-6 run at the end of the first half effectively sealed the game and dunks on three straight possessions — including a high flying alley oop from Loyd to Emory — got the crowd going, but the Ducks’ slow start to the second half left the door ajar. But less than five minutes into the second half, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings was ejected, leaving an underclassmen-heavy team already down by close to 20 without a head coach.
On the horizon. The Ducks host Jacksonville State on Nov. 19 before traveling to Las Vegas for probably the Ducks’ toughest out-of-conference matchup of the season as the Ducks play UNLV in the Global Sports Classic. Oregon will expect to see increased minutes for Kazemi, who is continuing to recover from a groin injury suffered early in his time in Eugene.