Oregon Gores Gauchos In 72-70 Nailbiter

They didn't make it look easy, but when it was said and done, the Oregon men buckled down and earned a key 72-70 victory over UC Santa Barbara to move to 3-0 overall on the young season.

It's 3-0 and on to the next one for the Ducks and head coach Dana Altman, as Oregon earned their third win of the season in as many games by knocking off the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos before 6,197 in attendance at McArthur Court on Sunday night. The Ducks were led by five players who scored in double figures, most notably Oregon senior forward Joevan Catron, who contributed 15 points and 6 rebounds to lead the Ducks as he continues to assert himself as the team's catalyst this season.

"(Joevan's) been a big brother to all of us, basically," said Oregon junior forward Teondre Williams. "He's done this for five years, so he knows what it takes. He's been on Elite Eight teams and all that...basically we all take heed to what he says and take it to heart and just try to emulate him."

For the second time during the three-day BTI Invitational, Catron found himself in the middle of the game's most impactful moment. With only seconds remaining in the game, the Ducks made a defensive stop and were immediately fouled after re-gaining possession. Up by a point, Catron went to the free throw line and buried his first free throw attempt. Up by 2, Catron intentionally missed his second free throw, however he failed to draw iron, giving the Gauchos the ball for a final possession in which they were ultimately turned away. Afterwords, Catron laughed off his free throw gaff.

"I was trying to draw iron," smiled Catron. "Unfortunately it's harder to miss when you're trying to miss."

Despite the loss, the Gauchos received a couple of epic individual performances from juniors James Nunnally and Orlando Johnson, who finished with 28 and 24 points, respectively. In evaluating what made it difficult for the Ducks to stop UCSB's two-headed monster, Catron credited Johnson and Nunnally's versatility.

"Their offense is basically ran through those two guys," stated Catron. "They did put the ball in the hole and they're pretty big guards so they posted up our guards a lot...they can also shoot the three, so going in to the game, it was on our scouting report to make them drive the ball. They (ended up) being pretty good drivers and they made plays for their team."

In the end though, the Ducks were the victors, as they now look to continue their winning ways against San Jose State next Saturday. For Altman, the 3-0 start helps lay the foundation for revitalizing Oregon basketball.

"Winning is always important," said Altman. "When you're trying to establish a new system and trying to do things a bit differently, the re-enforcement of winning is fun."

Tip for next Saturday's game vs. San Jose State is set for 2:00 pm.

Notes: Joevan Catron's 15 points marked his third-straight game in double figures (27 against North Dakota State and 20 against Denver). It is the first time the senior has accomplished the feat since the 2008-09 season when he scored 13 against Oakland, 12 against UC Irvine and 17 against Alabama Nov. 17-24, 2008.

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney


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