Oregon men’s basketball pull off comeback win against Washington State for best mark since 1926

Fred Richardson III, center, and his teammates react to Carlos Emory's resounding dunk during the second half as assistant coach Tony Stubblefield attempts to keep his players off the court. (Michael Arellano/Emerald)

Fred Richardson III, center, and his teammates react to Carlos Emory's resounding dunk during the second half as assistant coach Tony Stubblefield attempts to keep his players off the court. (Michael Arellano/Emerald)

Posted by Jackson Long on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 9:48 pm.

It is all about the numbers.

The No. 16 Oregon Ducks were down by 10 points after the first 20 minutes of play against Washington State, but the Ducks turned it around to score a 68-61 comeback win. The victory improved Ducks’ basketball to 6-0 in conference play for the first time since 1926.

It was a total role reversal between the first and second halves for the Ducks and Cougars, as Oregon had difficulty from the field in the initial act, shooting below 39 percent while Washington State was above 41 percet and made 7 of 13 threes.

“They really took it to us in the first half; they won almost every stat,” said Ducks’ head coach Dana Altman. “Second half was a lot different. I thought our guys’ energy was much better.”

With that energy, Oregon bumped its shooting percentage by almost 10 percent, making over 48 percent of its attempts. For the Cougars, the scoring fell apart, as WSU managed a dreadful 27 percent shooting and more importantly, missed all 11 shots from beyond the arc. The Cougars also whiffed on six free throws in the second half while Oregon improved at the line in the second 20 minutes.

After almost 10 minutes of play, the Ducks found themselves behind 17-10. The Ducks would pull within two after a Tony Woods three-point play. The margin extended to as high as nine and was as close as three, but when the half ended, the hot-shooting cougars had their biggest lead of the game at 39-29. Oregon never led in the first half.

Things changed immediately once the second half began. The Ducks opened with a 7-0 run, and when the Cougars tried to beat Oregon down the floor and swing the ball around the perimeter, the Ducks scrambled well and Carlos Emory robbed a pass and took it into the open floor for a rim-rattling jam. Oregon was within one point, and WSU had not scored in almost five minutes.

WSU quickly regained a six-point lead, but the Ducks were again within one when E.J. Singler nailed a trifecta. One minute later, Singler sunk another three to tie the game at 46-46. The next Ducks possession, Singler earned two points at the line to give Oregon its first lead of the night. At this point, Singler had scored the last 10 points for Oregon and 12 of the team’s last 14.

The Cougars took back the lead at 53-52 with a fast-break layup, but that was the last time Washington State would be ahead.

Dominic Artis, who struggled all night, hit a three and soon after, Carlos Emory slammed home another dunk, putting Oregon up 59-55 with under five minutes left. In the final minutes of play, Washington State would go 2 for 6 from the line, forcing the Cougars to play the foul game, and in the end it was Oregon who prevailed.

Singler finished as the leading scorer for Oregon with 19 points. Arsalan Kazemi, who struggled in the first half, going 2 for 7, made 5 of 6 in the second half to finish with 16 points, his second-best effort of the season.

Turning point. Right when Oregon needed it most, the only senior who has spent all four years with Ducks came up big. Singler scored 10 in a row to bring his team back after the Ducks’ poor initial effort.

On the horizon. The Ducks will host big-time rival Washington on Saturday and look to extend the home winning streak.