Ducks Scratch, Claw But Fall Short Vs. Mizzou

On the heels of a 27-point loss to No. 1 Duke only 5 days before, the schedule didn't get much easier for the Oregon men as they faced No. 8 Missouri at McArthur Court on Thursday night. Despite being outmanned, the Ducks gave the Tigers all they could handle before falling 83-80.

Win or lose, Duck fans should consider the effort displayed by the Oregon men's basketball on Thursday night as a major step in the right direction. Forgetting for a moment that the Ducks trailed No. 8 Missouri 44-24 at halftime -- shooting 23.3 percent from the floor while their counterparts shot a sizzling 64.3 percent from the field -- Oregon head coach Dana Altman's undersized and undermanned team outscored the Tigers 56-39 in the second half and had an opportunity to send the game to overtime before true freshman guard Johnathan Loyd's desperation three-point attempt fell just short before time expired. Without forwards Jeremy Jacob (knee) and Teondre Williams (concussion), Ducks rode double figure scoring efforts from four players as they slogged their way through a brutal first half only to rise from the dead in the second half and put a devilish scare in to Mike Anderson's bunch from Columbia, Mo.

Led by sophomore forward E.J. Singler's 19 points (17 of which came in the second half) and 8 rebounds, Oregon nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a scenario that would have likely ended in an ugly blowout had this been last year's team.

"I think this team doesn't like to lose," said Singler in comparing this year's team to last year's squad. "I think we showed that tonight. We all have pride and just a love for the game...but that first half killed us being down by 22. I think we could have beat them by 22 if we played good in the first half."

The first half will certainly be reviewed with considerable angst as Altman and the Ducks will kick themselves for committing 12 first half turnovers that lead to 11 Missouri points, which only assisted the Tigers in shooting their gaudy first half field goal percentage.

"(Missouri) had 11 points at halftime off our turnovers and they didn't get any in the second half," said Altman. "They generate so much offense off turnovers and they didn't get any in the second half."

Altman credited the Ducks' climb back in to the contest to both the spirited effort of senior forward Joevan Catron -- who finished with 15 points and 6 rebounds, while also drawing 3 charges -- and the tremendous support of the McArthur Court crowd, who were as raucous as they've been in two plus years.

"The crowd was great," remarked Altman. "The students stayed with us and didn't give up on poorly as we played in the first half, to have them stay involved like they did was probably the only thing that kept us in the game."

With a 4-1 Portland State Viking team looming on the horizon for the Ducks, Altman insists that his team has no choice but to dedicate itself to improving and getting better.

"We've got Portland State on Sunday and they're 4-1," stated Altman. "This will be a big game for them and we just gotta bounce back and play. We're a better basketball team than what we've been playing and in some way, we have to get everyone on the same page."

Tip-off against the Vikings is set for 3:00 pm Sunday from McArthur Court in Eugene. The game can be seen locally on CSNNW.

Notes: -Missouri guard Marcus Denmon led the Tigers in scoring with 19 points. Four other players scored in double figure for Missouri on Thursday night.

-The Ducks outscored the Tigers, 17-5, over a 6:30 span to open the second half. That included a 10-0 run from the 16:43 mark to the 13:30 mark in the second half. UO made 5-of-9 field goals during that stretch.

- After falling behind 22 points (2:34 mark in 1st half), Oregon managed to cut Missouri's lead to two points , 82-80, with 5.3 seconds in the second half.

- E.J. Singler registered a career-high 19 points to go with a team-high eight rebounds. He has scored in double-figures in the first seven games of the season. It was the second time this season that Singler had led the team in rebounds.

- Jay-R Strowbridge had 15 points and made a season-best three 3-pointers. It was first time he reached double-figures in scoring since posting a career-best 18 points in UO's 97-92 overtime win over North Dakota state in the season opener.

- Joevan Catron reached double-figures in scoring (15 points) for the sixth time in seven games this season.

- Johnathan Loyd registered a career-high 15 points (5-of-10 on FGs) in playing a season-high 30 minutes.

- MU's first-half field goal percentage (.643, 18-of-28) was the highest for any Oregon opponent this season. The Ducks had limited their opponents to sub-50 percent shooting in the first six games.

- Oregon's first-half field goal percentage (.233, 7-of-30) was a season-worst. The Ducks' previous first-half low on field goals was 27.8 percent (10-of-36) against top-ranked Duke last Saturday.

- The Ducks had three assists and 12 turnovers during the first 20 minutes of the game, both season-worsts.

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney

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