It was a team effort through and through. In their best overall performance thus far this season, the Ducks -- for the first time -- were able to thoroughly dictate their desired style of play to their opponent. In Oregon's 75-52 rout of Texas Southern, the Ducks utilized their speed to wreak havoc defensively -- forcing 21 turnovers -- while flexing their superior conditioning and athleticism by out-rebounding the Tigers by a 34-25 margin, with 22 points coming off second chance opportunities. Through four games, senior forward Joevan Catron has been the one largely responsible for the yeoman's work in the paint, however tonight, that mantle was carried admirably junior forward Tyrone Nared.
"The last couple games we got out-rebounded," said Nared who finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds to lead the Ducks in both scoring and rebounding. "Coach (Altman) specifically said that we have to rebound; that that would be the main focus in order to win the game...we knew we had to do that right away."
In the first half, the Ducks seemed to suffer from a lingering hangover coming on the heels of their loss last Saturday to San Jose State, yet they rallied to close the half on a 8-0 run which was capped off by a dramatic last second three by junior guard Garrett Sim that came from just beyond half court.
"I just got the rebound and looked up and there was about 4 seconds left," recalled Sim of his buzzer-beater. "I just pushed up (the floor) and got a nice little toss on it.
"I think (the shot) gave us a little momentum going in to the half."
Coming out of halftime, Oregon's effort and intensity on defense was ratcheted up considerably, as the Ducks forced three Tiger turnovers in the first four minutes of the second half which helped spark an impressive 20-5 run that enabled Oregon to push their lead out to as many as 30 as they cruised to the win. For Oregon head coach Dana Altman, the victory was a testament to the effort and the energy his team exerted from tip-off to the final buzzer.
"I thought defensively we did some really good things," remarked Altman. "Even though we weren't playing as well offensively as I hoped we would, I thought defensively we were sound and not giving up easy baskets, which always hurts a team. When they're not scoring, their energy level goes down...we were the more energetic team for a long stretch."
With confidence somewhat restored following Tuesday night's win, the Ducks look to carry momentum over to Saturday's matchup in Portland against No. 1 Duke, the defending national champions. While Oregon's odds of pulling off a monumental upset of the Blue Devils are more or less slim, Altman is hopeful his team is emboldened by the daunting challenge that awaits them.
"(Duke) is a very good basketball team," said Altman. "They're big and defensively, they've always been really good. It's a big challenge and big opportunity for us, but we just want to prepare ourselves and go up there and compete and see how we can improve.
"It's a long season and the next three days we just want to get a little bit better and go up there and play the best we can on Saturday."
Tip off against Duke is set for 1:00 pm from the Rose Garden in Portland. The game can be seen live on Fox Sports Net.
Joevan Catron scored Oregon's first four points of the game (and six of UO's first eight). It was the third time in five games this season that Catron recorded UO's first made basket (North Dakota State, San Jose State, Texas Southern)...Catron was limited to just eight points (3-of-4 on FGs) marking the first time this season he's been held below double-digits in scoring...Malcolm Armstead matched a season-high with three steals, a number he reached by halftime...Tyrone Nared registered new Oregon-bests in points (13) and rebounds (6). He also made a season-high six field goals (6-of-8)...E.J. Singler scored in double figures for the fifth-straight game, tallying 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting....The Ducks shot a season-best field goal percentage 52.7 percent (29-of-55). UO also made 14-of-30 first-half field goal attempts en route to shooting a season-high 46.7 percent in that half.
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
Oregon Too Much For Texas Southern
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