With a win against Nebraska, the Oregon men’s basketball team improved to 9-1 on the season.
The Ducks kept their perfect record at home in tact today thanks to a strong defensive effort. Nebraska was held to just 38 points and simply couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end as they finished the game shooting 30.6 percent. The Ducks may have had their woes on offense as well, but their performance on the defensive end proved to be too much for the Huskers.
Both teams struggled in the early going, and it seemed to impact the tempo of not only the first half, but the remainder of the game. The Huskers slowed down the game to where they wanted it, and though they were not successful on the offensive end of the floor, they prevented the Ducks from running down the floor.
“They got the tempo to where they wanted, ” Coach Dana Altman said in regards to the Huskers setting the tempo. “We wanted the game in the 80s and they wanted the game in the 60s, and that’s where they got it,” Altman said after the game.
The Ducks came out in the first half flat. With 11:59 remaining in the first half, the Ducks were shooting a dismal 35.7 percent from the field and it really didn’t improve too much as the half went along. It wasn’t until Tony Woods recorded back-to-back dunks — which gave the Ducks a commanding 16-6 lead — that’s when the Ducks really started to separate from the Huskers. Without Woods, who recorded 8 points and 2 rebounds, the Ducks found themselves in a closely contested first half. As both teams continued to struggle from the field, the first half ended with an unimpressive 27-18 score. The Ducks ended up shooting 42.3 percent from the field, but only managed to hold a nine-point lead at the half.
The Ducks came out in the second half looking to extend their lead on a struggling Nebraska team. After a Dominic Artis lob pass from half court to E.J. Singler, the Ducks found themselves with a sizable 37-20 lead over the Huskers. The Huskers continued to struggle from the field and despite closing the gap to 11 points with 9:11 to go, the Ducks held their ground and cruised to a 60-38 win.
Even in a blowout win, Altman was far from impressed. As Pac-12 play inches closer, Altman understands the Ducks still have much to improve before they can perform in conference play, and today’s game confirmed those feelings.
“We probably sent the game back about 10 years,” Altman said after the win. “Our shooting and ball movement just wasn’t what I thought it would be; Nebraska didn’t shoot the ball either, so they got the pace where they wanted because of that. We really never got a good flow to our offense and the energy in the building from our team wasn’t what I hoped it would be so it was it was a win, but we didn’t take the step I wanted to take,” Altman said. “We didn’t establish the things that would make us successful.”
Takeaways. In an otherwise blowout win, the Ducks had two things to be happy about: Arsalan Kazemi and Woods. Woods arguably had one of his best all-around performances today, as he finished with 14 points on 7-11 shooting along with four rebounds. Kazemi continued his dominance on the floor as he racked up a game-high 17 rebounds along with 10 points to give him a double-double on the day.
“I’m jealous that Arsalan gets all the boards. I don’t get any boards,” jokes Woods after the game. “It’s great being able to play and know he’s gonna grab every board. He let’s me roam around, be free, block more shots, rebound and focus more on rebounding and defense,” Woods said.
“Arsalan really rebounded the ball, he’s unbelievable,” Altman said.
“Tony made some nice plays offensively, but we got a long ways to go,” he added. “Tony is evolving as a player and he was 7-11, so I thought he did a lot of good things. He’s got to get a better feel when they collapse on him and make plays; kick it out there, post and re-post, but I think he’s getting better as an offensive player.”
Turning point. After a rough stretch of shooting where neither team scored for three minuets — where the Ducks missed five consecutive shots — Woods recorded back-to-back dunks to give the Ducks some much needed momentum and energy. This allowed the Ducks to get going on the offensive side of the ball and sparked a run that would really never come to an end as the Ducks led for the rest of the game.
On the horizon. The Ducks now head to El Paso, Texas, as they are set to play Texas-El Paso on Dec. 19. Tip off is set for 5 p.m.