Except for that whole shooting thing, the Oregon men didn't play half bad Tuesday night. Unfortunately for the Ducks, a forgettable 33.8 percentage from the field will result in a loss more times than not. A disappointing 69-65 defeat to the Idaho Vandals is the outcome of the last non-conference game to be played at historic McArthur Court, dropping the Ducks to 7-5 overall as they head in to Pac-10 Conference play the weekend after next. Despite another spirited effort by forward Joevan Catron and E.J. Singler -- who each scored 18 and 11 points respectively while pulling in 6 rebounds a piece -- Oregon couldn't buy a bucket as they struggled mightily to overcome a balanced Vandal scoring attack.
"Offensively, we obviously have got to do better there," said Oregon head coach Dana Altman. "We had some looks and we're having a hard time finishing plays and hitting shots."
Whether it was in the paint or along the perimeter, the Ducks toiled in their pursuit to find the bottom of the net. Though they attempted 21 more shots than Idaho (including 29 attempts from beyond the arc), Oregon never found their stroke as the Vandals were paced by 7 players who scored 8 or more points. After the game, Altman gave some credit to Idaho's defense, which held Catron in check in the first half allowing only 4 points to the Chicago native.
"(Idaho) zoned us all night and they really tried to take Joevan out of it with some double teams," remarked Altman.
"We had some open perimeter shots and we just didn't knock them down. On those nights where you're not hitting shots, you gotta grind it out with defensive effort and we didn't do that."
In spite of their lackluster shooting effort, the Ducks were still in the game late after overcoming a frustrating 5 minute stretch in the second half where they failed to score a single point. However, with the game on the line, the team appeared to lack aggressiveness in hunting for their own shot and attacking the basket. Instead, the Ducks appeared tight, perhaps reluctant to force the issue as a result of their rattled confidence due to their poor shooting performance.
"When you're not shooting it and you know you're not shooting it, it's a little hard to be aggressive," said Altman after the game.
"We had an opportunity there when Johnnie (Johnathan Loyd) gets a steal and misses a lay-up, or when Malcolm (Armstead) gets fouled and has a chance to make it a one possession game...we just didn't finish. We didn't finish inside and we didn't finish outside."
With the non-conference season now over, the Ducks sit just over .500. Admittedly, Altman believed this team would be further along than they currently are, expressing disappointment as Oregon heads in to conference play at home against the Arizona schools next week.
"I think we've had some individual performances that have been pretty good," said Altman, "but for the most part I'm disappointed where we're at. Disappointed in myself for not getting them to come along quicker, faster...there are a lot of areas where we have to continue to improve."
The final home games at McArthur Court take place next Thursday and Saturday as the Ducks open Pac-10 Conference play against Arizona on the 30th and Arizona State on New Year's Day.
Odds and Ends: In the past two games, Oregon forward Tyrone Nared has logged only 12 minutes despite appearing to be a bright spot for the Ducks coming off the bench. When asked about Nared's lack of playing time recently, Altman said it's simply a matter of production. "He's got to produce more when he gets an opportunity...we gave J.J. (Jeremy Jacob) a few more minutes, but it's nothing in particular." Nared had 2 points, 4 rebounds, and one block in 9 minutes of action Tuesday night.
Oregon attempted only 13 free throws, the fourth lowest total of the season. The Ducks shot a season-high 92.3 percent from the charity stripe (going 12-of-13)...The Ducks gave up 40 points in the first half which tied for the second-highest opponent scoring total this season. UO gave up 44 points in the first half against Missouri, and 40 points in the neutral-site loss to top-ranked Duke...Joevan Catron (18 points) led the Ducks in scoring for the ninth time this season (fourth time in five games)...Malcolm Armstead's four steals matched a career-high and established a new season best. He scored 10 points, the fourth time this season Armstead has reached double figures...E.J. Singler (11 points) reached double figures in scoring for the 10th time this season. He also tied a career-high with three steals. Singler's six rebounds was a team-high, the fifth time this season he's led the team (or tied for the team lead) in that category.
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
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