Leading by as many as 29 points at one point during Thursday night's home affair versus the Washington State Cougars, the Ducks came out of the gate hot as pistols and never cooled off; running roughshod over the visitors from Pullman 69-43 as the Ducks moved to 11-11 overall and 4-6 in conference. Powered by sharp shooting, tenacious defense, and outstanding bench play, the Ducks may have played their most complete game of the entire season. Offensively, the Ducks shot 42.9 percent from the field and nearly 40 percent (39.1) from three-point range. Additionally, Oregon assisted on 17 of their 24 made baskets, a stat which Duck head coach Dana Altman took particular pride in after the game.
"Guys are playing well together," said Altman. "Anytime you can get 17 assists on 24 baskets -- and in the first half we had 11 assists on 13 baskets -- they're moving the ball pretty good when that happens."
Senior forward Joevan Catron led the Ducks in scoring and rebounding once again, tallying 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 9 rebounds in 29 minutes of action. Catron provided arguably the highlight of the game with some nifty ballhandling on the baseline before stepping back burying a jumper in his defender's face; an indication, if nothing else, that the Chicago native was comfortable in his element this evening.
"When you get a little flow going like he had going tonight, you just let him go," remarked Altmam.
"Joe finished a lot of plays."
Defensively, the Ducks swarmed and pressured the Cougars in to 15 turnovers, which Oregon was able to convert in to 14 points over the course of the contest. Led by Malcolm Armstead's five steals steals, the Ducks seemed to harass Washington State whenever they brought the ball up the floor, limiting Pac-10 leading scorer Klay Thompson to only 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
"That's just coach's style of play," said Catron of the Ducks frenetic play on defense. "Since October 15, he's been putting this in. We want to be a hard-nosed team, we want to try to get under people, and we want to try to speed them up with the full court press. We're really starting to buy in to that system and it's really starting to make changes for us."
Oregon was also the beneficiary of 23 points coming from their bench. Jay-R Strowbridge was largely responsible for the bench's sizable scoring output as he poured in 15 points of his own Thursday night.
"The team as a whole has been getting up extra shots," said Strowbridge. "Hard work pays off and we knew the confidence was going to come. Just had to keep shooting the ball and it turned out good for us tonight."
With victories in four of their last six games, the Ducks take a substantial measure of confidence heading in to Saturday afternoon's game against 19th ranked Washington. For Altman, the improvement his that his team has made has been remarkable; stating his team appears to have completely transformed from the squad that was closing out McArthur Court only a month ago.
"We're a lot different team than we were a month ago," admitted Altman. "We've made tremendous progress. Guys have done a great job working with each other and we're a better team. We still gotta bring it every night, but I like the progression we're making and I hope we can keep it up."
Tip-off against the Huskies is set for 1:00 pm Pacific. TV coverage of the game can be found live on Fox Sports Net.
The Ducks held the Cougars to 25.9 percent shooting, the lowest opponent field goal percentage of the season. The 43 points allowed are also a season best for Oregon's defense and the fewest it has allowed since giving up only 43 to Winston-Salem State on Nov. 13, 2009...Oregon's defense held Washington State to 23 points in the first half, the fewest the Ducks have allowed in any half during Pac-10 play. It is the second fewest points UO has allowed in any half this season, trailing only the 22 it yielded in the first half to Portland State on Dec. 5...Washington State's 21.4 percent field goal percentage in the first half was the lowest figure the Ducks have allowed in any half this season and marked the first time an opponent has shot under 30 percent from the field in a half since Portland State shot 29.6 percent in the second half on Dec. 5. The six Cougar field goals are the fewest the Ducks have allowed in any half this season...UO led by as many as 29 points in the second half, its largest lead in Pac-10 play and biggest advantage since leading Willamette by 35 points on Dec. 11...Joevan Catron (17 points) recorded his 16th game in double figures this season...Jay-R Strowbridge (15 points) scored in double figures for the third time in the last four games...Garrett Sim (13 points) scored in double figures for the ninth time this season...E.J. Singler (10 points) reached double figures for the 15th time this season.
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
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